Citizen candidates give campaigns a personal touch
Not bogged down by the lack of an organised party set-up or funds for grandiose rallies, citizen candidates are campaigning at the grass roots-level. Door-to-door canvassing, networking with the help of local non-government organisations (NGOs) and Advanced Locality Managements (ALMs) and getting eminent personalities to recommend them are some of the contestants' preferred methods.
Door-to-door visits are an effective way to connect with voters, said Thelma D'souza, a citizen candidate from ward number 115 in Powai. "Direct interaction with the voters always helps. I don't have a party backing, and a number of Powai-based NGOs have come out in my support." Harishchandra Pande, an Independent candidate from ward number 1 in Borivali-Dahisar, agrees with D'souza. "There is a lot of anger among people because of malpractices in political parties. Door-to-door campaigning has helped me convince voters that an apolitical candidate is a better choice in the civic body," Pande said.
Neelam Rane, a citizen candidate fielded by Pestom Sagar Citizens' Forum in ward number 149 in Chembur, believes the reach the Forum has in the ward will help her sail through. "Residents are already aware of the work the Forum has been doing. It has helped me tremendously in reaching out to voters," Rane said.
Makarand Narwekar, a citizen candidate from ward number 227 in Colaba, has got several recommendations from prominent personalities such as former IPS officer Julio Rebeiro and retired high court judge VG Palshikar to woo his voters. Narwekar has published their recommendations on his blog.
Aditya Paul, coordinator of the Mumbai Nagrik Manch, which has fielded three candidates, said they have been networking with voters through ALM meetings. "We have not employed crafty electoral tactics, we have just held meetings with housing society members and have been working towards strengthening local governance through area sabhas. It has helped in establishing a good voter base," he said.