An interesting trend in this year's civic polls was the rise of citizen's candidates, with the potential to give stiff competition to political parties. Little was it imagined that these candidates would end up competing amongst themselves.
With increasing number of platforms fielding candidates this year, five electoral wards in the city will see citizen candidates flex their muscles against each other. "Though all the forums had initially agreed not to compete with each other in the same ward, it has unfortunately happened," said Hansel D'souza, convenor of Mumbai Nagrik Manch, which is fielding three citizen candidates this year.
According to candidates, the discord will only work in favour of political parties. "Parties will stand to gain from the division of votes," said Makarand Narwekar of My Dream Colaba, who contest from ward 227, Colaba, against citizen candidate, Vijay Shivdasani, from the forum Mumbai 227, fielding more than 60 candidates.
These forums also differ in their approach. Describing Mumbai Nagrik Manch's perspective, Hansel said: "We have fielded candidates elected by people, not imposed from the top."
However, Mumbai 227's Akalpita Paranjpe maintained that a rigorous selection and training process ensures quality. "Mumbai 227 is a brand that our citizen would carry to their advantage. However, we are at a disadvantage in wards where we face competition from other citizen candidates," she said.
However, Adolf D'souza, convenor of citizens' forum Mumbai Nagriksatta and the city's first citizen candidate feels the competition could prove to be positive. "The concept of citizen's candidates is evolving. It is good that many forums are experimenting with multiple ways of putting citizens' consensus candidates," he said.