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Citizens' crusade for change

At a media conference organised by Lok Satta party yesterday, the party declared its first list of Citizen Candidates for the upcoming civic polls in February. It also released a booklet stating 10 irrevocable guarantees in wards, where it comes to power

As the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) quinquennial election dates are coming near, various political parties have already started fielding their candidates in different wards. While the Shiv Sena for many years has won the BMC polls, political parties in the race have started strategising for the 2012 BMC elections.


For the citizens: Surendra Shrivastava, President, Lok Satta party,
Maharashtra at a media conference yesterday. Pics/Santosh Nagwekar


From supporting Citizen Candidates to amassing support through door-to-door campaigns to pre-poll alliances, parties are giving their best shot at winning maximum number of electoral wards. In one such event, yesterday, Lok Satta party declared its first list of Citizen Candidates for BMC 2012 polls. The event, which was a low-key affair was held at the Lok Satta party Office at Byculla (E).


Ready for elections: Lok Satta declares its list of Citizen Candidates
for BMC 2012 polls


The party, which will be taking part in the BMC elections for the first time, also announced the party's 10 guarantees for citizens of Mumbai for BMC 2012. The party also released a booklet called 'Mumbai Vision' to address issues specific to Mumbai city.

Development
The party's campaign, which revolves around the theme-- "Ab bas!!!Apna neta Aap Bano", was launched on October 14, 2012. The party since then has been actively seeking applications from the 'aam aadmi', who want to make a difference to the city of Mumbai. The party, which intends to stand for elections in 30-50 wards out of 227 wards, has so far finalised five candidates from various wards. "We have another nine applications on hold, and are carefully scrutinizing them in order to select our candidates. Our candidates need to have a clean record and should be committed towards developing their area," said Surendra Shrivastava, President, Lok Satta party, Maharashtra.

Votes
While members of the party advocated for a 'participatory decentralized governance mechanism that will contain corruption and increase accountability and transparency', they also acknowledged the fact that there will be some stiff competition from parties, which indulge in vote bank politics. "We are clear that we will not indulge in any vote bank politics or muscle power to gather votes.

But our main target would be Mumbaikars who do not vote during BMC elections. Approximately 50 per cent of Mumbaikars do not take part in the civic polls. Either they do not believe in the system or they don't think that any political party can make a difference. This is where our vote bank lies." The party is organising activities at ward levels to make people aware of the their agenda. "We have taken a leaf out of Obama's campaign too. Hence, we're organising door-to-door campaigns," said Dr Ram Ramdas, spokesman, Lok Satta party, Mumbai.

Local
During the event Shrivastava also emphasised that in wards where the party comes into power, it will employ various Area Sabha Representatives (ASR) to take care of issues at a local level. "Each Area Sabha under a corporator will be headed by one male and one female Ward Area Sabha representative (ASR) and each ASR will represent around 1,700 people. Thus a decentralised structure will be there to address issues at a local level."

The party's candidate list released yesterday, boasts of people who are first time politicians. "We have a sportsperson, a doctor and a businessman on the list. We are  seeking more candidates with non-political backgrounds. We're also open to pre poll alliances with citizens' forums and other political parties provided they abide by our 10 Irrevocable Guarantees," said Shrivastava.

Democracy
Dr Parag Jhaveri (47), will be representing Lok Satta from ward 216. When asked,why didn't he choose to stand as an independent candidate, Jhaveri said, "I am standing for the BMC polls for the first time. To know how the whole system functions, I believe it is always good to have support from a political party, who also share a same ideology. Hence I joined Lok Satta."

He further adds, "In the future, if it so happens that our ideologies do not match, then I might have to take a step back." A radiologist by profession, Jhaveri claims that, health issues will be his priority if he wins the election from his ward. When asked, why did he decided to join politics in the first place, Jhaveri replied, "You cannot love democracy but hate politics."

Background
Lok Satta party is a political party in India. It was launched on October 2, 2006 by the Lok Satta voluntary organisation. Its founder Dr Jayaprakash Narayan, is a former IAS officer of the 1980 batch and a democratic reformer from Andhra Pradesh, India. Loksatta started as a citizen movement called  "Loksatta Andolan" or Lok Satta movement in Andhra Pradesh

10 irrevocable Guarantees
*
Government at your doorstep: Your right to be heard
* Cleaner localities
* Better roads and footpaths in the locality
* Lesser water logging in locality
* Reduced corruption at local level
* Functional Municipal Schools
* Functional primary Health Centres
* Citizen grievance redressal regarding BMC services
* More greenery and better-managed parks
* More public toilets: No more public defecation

Requirments
For becoming a citizens' candidate, one needs to
* first become an executive member of the party
* fill nomination forms which will be scrutinised by party members
* the details are sent to an independent election authority headed by Retired Justice BN Srikrishna, chairman of the independent election authority for Lok Satta party in Maharashtra
* The nomination is then confirmed
Visit http://www.loksatta.org/mh/ for more details

Candidates
* Kanak Gandhi(51) from Ward 214
* Sangeeta Sharma (45) from Ward 76
* Shivani Joshi (37) a sportswoman will contest from Ward 55
* Dr Parag Jhaveri (47), a radiologist by profession will contest from ward 216
* Rajesh Jogani (44), a businessman will contest  from Ward 213

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