How people like you are fighting to rule Mumbai

Three 'clean', young people are moving into the political space with a romantic promise to cleanse the system, reports Snehal Rebello.

india Updated: Dec 20, 2006 14:17 IST

This is the stuff that Mani Ratnam's edgy Yuva and Rakeysh Mehra's Rang De Basanti were made of.

The political fantasy of the middle class could finally be coming true with three 'clean', young people moving into the political space with a romantic promise to cleanse the system.

Doctor Krunal Desai (24), entrepreneur Mahesh Patil (25) and homemaker Urmila Jaiswal (34) will contest the February 1 civic elections. They are backed by Lok Paritran, the political outfit a bunch of former Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) students across India formed in Jodhpur in November 2005.

The party's city branch was opened with a small, open-air meeting at Shivaji Park on September 17. There are already 500 members in Mumbai.

The party has a bigger destination in mind: Lok Sabha elections, 2009. But for now, the candidates are concentrating on the civic polls with good governance and rooting out corruption as their poll planks. They are working with a grand poll budget of a few thousand rupees. Krunal, Mahesh and Urmila will contest as independents since their party is not formally registered with the Election Commission.

"The issues are the same — roads, drainage, water supply. But we want to set a new trend and raise efficiency bars. A low-budget election is just one such thought," said Mahesh, who is into poultry farming and will contest from Thane.

At a time when the youth are disillusioned and drifting away from politics, the trio has decided to woo them back.

"We are targeting the youth and the elderly, who normally do not vote. Besides, it is easier to convince them rather than the middle aged, who usually have party affiliations," said Krunal, who is doing postgraduation in occupational therapy at KEM Hospital.

On December 24, he will go door to door in his ward in Mulund (E), introducing himself and explaining that "the system is perfect but delays are caused by those with vested interests".

After having campaigned for elections in Chennai twice (for both Assembly and Civic elections), Lok Paritran will be trooping in on the city.

Besides checking the social background and their contribution in their respective wards, the party ensures that its candidates do not have even a first information report against them.

"However, we are not too particular about the person's educational background if they have been doing good work," said Nikunj Shah, party member.

While Krunal knows that standing as an independent candidate against seasoned Shiv Sena corporator Prabhakar Shinde may not promise victory, he is ready to take on the challenge. "The unrest between the Sena and Maharashtra Navnirman Sena as well as the Congress and the Nationalist Congress Party might help me," he said.

For Urmila, the elections are not new territory. She had contested as an independent from Thane in 2003, and lost. "The fact that Lok Paritran has highly educated members can help in convincing people," said the mother of three.

And while Krunal's father is guiding him in election strategy and Urmila's husband is only too happy at his wife's decision, Patil is busy convincing his unhappy parents, who are worried about his safety in one of the wildest spaces on Earth — Indian politics.

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First Published: Dec 20, 2006 14:17 IST