The 26/11 terror attacks have resulted in a surge in citizen activism.
And two women are taking this activism to the election battleground.
A more politically conscious, post 26/11 south Mumbai will see banker Meera Sanyal and ophthalmic surgeon Mona Patel Shah battle it out against sitting Congress Member of Parliament (MP) Milind Deora and five-time Shiv Sena MP Mohan Rawle.
While Sanyal will contest as an independent candidate, Dr Shah will be contesting under the banner of the Professionals’ Party of India.
“I was never active in politics but always wanted to do something more than I was doing,” said 47-year-old Sanyal, the IIM and INSEAD-educated chairperson and country executive for ABN AMRO Bank (now RBS) in India. “But after 26/11, I felt we were just sitting around criticizing the system. And that’s not enough.”
Mumbai has seen a surge in citizen activism and this time, more than ever, many citizens are keen on actively being part of the election process. South Mumbai, notorious for its political apathy, registered the lowest voter turnout in Mumbai in the 2004 Lok Sabha polls.
But these polls south Mumbai, where the 26/11 terror attacks took place, is seeing evidence of this heightened level of interest in politics through the candidature of these two women professionals.
And both say they are comfortable and can reach out to the affluent and middle-class voters of south Mumbai with equal ease. While a large number of employees of BPO Aces, set up by ABN Amro bank in Lower Parel are locals and Sanyal interacts with them regularly, Shah has been working with women in Kamathipura for more than eight years. “I work in a municipal eye hospital in Kamathipura,” said 38-year-old Shah. “Even when I was at JJ and Nair Hospitals I interacted with people from different sections of society.”
Both are doing all it takes to reach out to the youth in their constituencies, from creating communities on Facebook to posting videos on YouTube.
Sanyal is looking forward to the experience and has a message for her opponents: “I am not standing against you. I am standing for Mumbai.”