Civic activist Harish Pandey, who contested from Dahisar in 2007, said that he is not keen to contest BMC polls.
Mumbai: A citizen’s movement, which was started about a decade ago, to provide an alternative to political parties is on the verge of fizzling out in the city. Disillusioned by lack of funds and public support, majority of citizen groups are unwilling to contest the forthcoming Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) polls. An activist said, “While the conditions are not favourable, there is no major issue, which could make people vote for us.”
In 2007, Adolf D’Souza, city’s first citizen-supported candidate, was elected from Juhu in the BMC polls. Inspired by his success, three citizen groups — Mumbai 227, Lok Satta and Mumbai Nagrik Satta had contested the 2012 municipal polls. But their chances diminished after rifts emerged within the candidates. Mr D’Souza said that his group, Mumbai Nagrik Satta, would be contesting from ward no. 69 from Juhu this year.
In 2012, Makarand Narvekar, a self-proclaimed citizen candidate, was elected from ward number 227 in Colaba. However, according to the political sources, he got elected with tacit support from Shiv Sena, which made him the chairman of the BMC law committee. Mr Narvekar confirmed that his Citizen Forum group would contest from ward number 226 and 227 in the BMC polls. “We will fight only on the strength of citizens’ support in our area. There is no need to take support from any political party,” he said.
Former councillor Nicholas Almeida said that their Watchdog Foundation would be fielding two women candidates each from Sahar and Marol area. “We have been highlighting several irregularities in BMC,” he said. His wife Shalini Almeida, who had contested as an independent and finished third by gain over 4,000 votes in last civic polls, will contest from ward number 86.
However, civic activists feel that chances of citizen’s candidates winning any seat are bleak. “There is not a single major factor which could fuel people’s anger against the political establishment,” said Anil Joseph from Bandra. “Five years back, social activist Anna Hazare held massive agitation against corruption, which prompted citizen groups to contest BMC polls. However, there is no such scenario this time.”
Civic activist Harish Pandey, who contested from Dahisar in 2007, said that he is not keen to contest BMC polls. He said, “A citizen candidate can’t fight against money and muscle power of politicians. Politicians can promise people stars during elections and still get away with that. We cannot do it. We fought hard against illegal constructions in Ganpat Patil Nagar, after which I received only 40 votes.”