Hansel D'souza, president of the Juhu Citizens Welfare Group (JCWG) - the organisation that fielded Adolf D'souza, the city's first citizen corporator, in 2007 - still remembers something a voter told him five years ago: "You are the first group that has come to us with a track record of your work, instead of empty promises," the voter had said.
It is this very strength - of credibility and proof of work, rather than grand campaigns organised with big money - that many forums backing citizen candidates are relying on.
"Political parties are much better placed with regard to monetary capabilities and hence they launch widespread campaigns. Our strategy is to bring our strengths to the fore," said Ghanashyam Hegde, member of My Dream Colaba, the forum that fielded lawyer Makarand Narwekar as the citizen candidate for ward 227.
In the absence of funds, what's needed is candidates willing to go the extra mile, says
Hansel, who has convened Mumbai Nagrik Manch - a forum that has fielded three citizen candidates. "We do not have the money to hire volunteers for campaigning. Our volunteers are honorary and the onus lies on the candidates to mobilise a good volunteer base," he said.
More than 11 citizen candidates are contesting the polls this year and are pulling out all stops to garner support and urge citizens to vote.
Full-fledged campaigning, with printing of leaflets and banners, will only begin once citizen candidates get their symbols from the election commission, on February 2.
Santosh Awatramani, of Mumbai 227 - a platform to launch citizen candidates - said receiving the symbols late could make campaigning difficult. "Political parties are definitely at an advantage as far as campaigning is concerned. But we will try our best," he said.
However, Pestom Sagar Citizen's Forum (PSCF), which fielded citizen candidate Neelam Rane in ward 149 (Chembur), is confident about its strategy. " We began door-to-door campaigning right after announcing our candidate in three main parts of our ward. With dedicated volunteers, we have reached out to those who had not voted in the previous elections," said Jyoti Balasubramanian, secretary, PSCF.
Another factor in favour of citizen candidates is approachability, even more so at a time when the anti-corruption wave across the country has led to disillusionment with politics. As Adolf D'souza, who founded the forum Mumbai Nagriksatta that fielded six candidates this year said, "The purpose of fielding citizen candidates is to give the electorate an alternative that they can connect with."