Garnering support of independents to cobble up a majority is a known phenomenon, but a new trend is emerging in the civic polls due on February16 — poaching on them before the votes are cast. In the last two days, two independent candidates fielded by citizen groups have jumped on the bandwagon of two political parties.
In Juhu (ward 63), Vijay Thakre, who had filed candidature as an independent, is now supported by the Lok Satta Party, while in ward 97 (Lilavati Hospital to Bandra bus terminus), Neelima Thakur, a candidate fielded by citizen group Mumbai 227, was pulled by the Sena-BJP-RPI alliance to their camp.
Thakur received the unexpected support after an RPI candidate contesting from her ward was disqualified during the scrutiny of nominations. “We have extended our alliance's support to Thakur since she is an ideal candidate and ours was disqualified. Citizens should recognise that the BJP-Sena-RPI alliance is encouraging the citizen candidate movement,” said Ashish Shelar, BJP leader.
Thakre said he has taken Lok Satta Party’s executive membership in return of which the party will support him. “To fight against established political parties, one needs support of various groups. I am contesting as an independent and the residents of my ward insisted I accept Lok Satta Party membership,” he said.
Thakre was fielded by Mumbai Nagriksatta, an outfit launched by Adolf D’Souza, the first citizen candidate to get elected in 2007 from ward 63. “He has given us in writing that he will not join any political party. His undertaking is with us,” said D’Souza, who is contesting from neighbouring ward 60 (Manishnagar to Four Bungalows).
Lok Satta Party spokesperson Ram Ramdas said, “Thakre is an independent candidate but he has become our executive member now and has pledged that he will be accountable to citizens of the ward.”