Riding on the connect that activist Anna Hazare's agitation has established with the masses, some citizen groups in the city have decided to float a citywide non-political outfit to field citizen candidates in the municipal polls early next year.
The initiative was taken by Adolf D'souza - city's first citizen-backed corporator - and his group. The proposed outfit is planning to contest for each of the 227 civic wards in the city. This was decided after an opinion poll conducted across the city, particularly among citizen bodies and organisations.
Hindustan Times, on August 15, had reported how D'souza and his colleagues conducted the opinion poll to determine the way in which citizen candidates should be selected. Over 53% of respondents voted in favour of a common body, which would have ward-level committees to select candidates.
The other option was to let citizen groups select their own candidates, while the third option was to have a pan-Mumbai body, with a centralised committee to select candidates. The former received 14% votes, while 33% voted for the latter.
Said D'souza, “The idea is to ensure that people don't lose the momentum gained from the agitation for the Jan Lokpal bill. Unlike the agitation, which might be over once the bill is passed, our movement for citizen-candidates will be sustained and hence, we want to carry this protest forward.”
Interestingly, before Hazare's agitation started, only 7% of the voters felt that different citizen bodies should set up their own independent candidates. “After Hazare's agitation began, the figure rose to 14%, which shows that it gave many more the courage to do so,” said Raajesh Senha, D'souza's colleague.
D'souza and his colleagues have been meeting various NGOs and citizen bodies, including registered slum community groups, across the city in the past few weeks. Meetings with citizen groups have also been held in Chembur, Bandra, Andheri, Borivali while more are being planned in Colaba and Dahisar.
Senha said that the new outfit would be launched in a month. According to Senha, contrary to the current agitation's mood, the idea behind the body was not to replace political parties. “We want to give people an alternative. No political party ever consults the public before they put up candidates. With this movement, citizens will be a part of the process of selecting their candidates.”