Common man turns corporator in Mumbai
Adolf D?Souza becomes the only citizen activist to make it to the civic corporation, reports Sweta Ramanujan-Dixit.Updated: Feb 03, 2007, 12:25 IST
He came, he worked, he conquered.
Adolf D’Souza has shown that you need not be a seasoned politician or the son of a seasoned politician to sweep the polls. You need not even have the backing of a political party. All you need is a solid body of work to showcase and people will trust you with their vote.
The 44-year-old Juhu resident won the civic polls from ward number 63 with 4,500 votes. Pitted against former corporator Pushpakant Mhatre and Bhartiya Janata Party’s (BJP) Ameet Satam, a 30-year-old management graduate who is also personal assistant to senior BJP leader, Gopinath Munde - D’Souza garnered a lead of over 600 votes. He fought as an independent candidate supported by the local ward committee, which is a body of residents from the ward.
As his supporters in the upper middle-class locality readied themselves for a biryani celebration, D’Souza was busy taking congratulatory calls. “We were preparing for victory,” D’Souza told HT over the phone minutes after his win. “We were confident.”
This exporter of gift articles attributes his win to the ‘goodwill of individuals and citizens’ groups’ in his area. Praful Vora, a local resident and member of the Ward Committee that nominated D’Souza, said that D’Souza’s victory was certain. “ We received support not just from the bungalow wallahs and flat wallahs but also from hawkers and shopkeepers, it was amazing,” Vora revealed.
Actor and Rajya Sabha member Shabana Azmi, who was among those who actively campaigned for D’Souza, said she was ‘over the moon’. “For me this is really a victory of citizens and what they can achieve when they come together,” Azmi said. “It is an indication of how in a true democracy citizens’ participation can win.”
Azmi added that the support of salaried professionals, who sacrificed work to campaign for D’Souza and prominent faces like actors Anil Kapoor and Diya Mirza strengthened the candidate’s chances.
For D’Souza, entering the civic body is a natural extension of his decade-long association with social activism. Awareness regarding social issues started in his childhood when he participated social activities through the Church. An active member of the Juhu Citizens Welfare Group, D’Souza was among the people who successfully led the drive for the beautification of Juhu beach. He is also a member of Action for Good Governance and Networking (AGNI) in India. “Wherever citizens are involved actively, victory is assured,” D’Souza declared.
On his agenda now is to make the civic body more citizen friendly and transparent. “There will be more accountability and people’s participation,” D’Souza said. “This is just the beginning.”
(with inputs from Snehal Rebello)
The citizens who did not make it
Sanjit Shukla, Law student Contesting on behalf of Youth for Equality
Ward No: 167 (Sion)
Number of votes: 1,228
What went wrong: “We didn’t spend too much money, only Rs 50,000. Also, we didn’t give people anything or offer booze as a means to get votes,” said Shukla. The 23-year-old also felt that the exclusion of his name for ratings by AGNI went against him.
Future plans: “I will start with social work in my area. It will be a slow but steady progress.”
Dr Krunal Desai, Post-graduation student in occupational therapy contesting on behalf of Bharat Punarnirman Dal formed by ex-IITians
Ward No: 101 (Mulund)
Number of votes: 65
What went wrong: “These votes are my own efforts. I managed with an expenditure of only Rs 10,000. Besides, this is a traditional Shiv Sena vote bank.”
Future plans: “I will now work towards contesting the assembly and parliament elections. I will begin with social work and propagate our party. I will actively take up public issues and play the watchdog now.”
Mahesh Patil, entrepreneur
Contesting on behalf of Bharat Punarnirman Dal formed by ex-IITians
Ward No: 21 (Thane)
Number of votes: 26
What went wrong: “Budget of Rs 12,000 for only door-to-door campaign, no good marketing, not my home ward and campaigning only once. But it is a good number to start with because at least 26 people want a change. Yesterday, I didn’t even know if I could get one vote.”
Future plans: “I am aiming for the Lok Sabha elections in 2009. I will visit the sitting corporator’s ward twice a week taking resident’s grievances to the corporator. I will also visit government offices, get to know the various schemes and pass them down to the people. Keeping a tab on the corporator, MP and MLA fund and expansion of the party in the state is also on the agenda."