The Mumbai unit of the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) is looking for 10 loyal supporters in each of the 227 municipal wards in Mumbai. The reason?
The party wants to order each of these 2,270 men and women to refer 10 relatives and close friends who are voters in the Mumbai North East Lok Sabha constituency so that by the time the 2014 elections come around, they are assured of several thousand additional votes in the only Mumbai LS seat that the party holds.
After the search is over, NCP leaders want the 2,270 shortlisted loyalists to be familiarised with the local NCP office in the North East constituency. But will a mere few thousand additional votes be enough in a Lok Sabha contest? NCP sources told SUNDAY MiD DAY that in the last elections, NCP candidate Sanjay Patil had defeated the BJP candidate by a thin margin of a few thousand votes. Patil, who is also NCP’s Mumbai unit president, doesn’t want to take any chances in 2014.
The 2,270 loyalists will be given a simple task: find people between Ghatkopar and Mulund who are known to them and willing to support the NCP. “We are forming a brigade of 10 members from each ward and they will have to get people who are either their friends, relatives or acquaintances and reside in North East constituency of Mumbai.
Their job will be to influence these people to vote for us and bring them to the local branch office of the party, in case they have any problems,” said Party’s spokesperson Uday Pratap Singh.
Incidentally, before Patil contested the seat in the 2009 Lok Sabha polls, the sitting MP was Congress leader and former Union minister Gurudas Kamat. Before that, the constituency was represented by BJP’s Kirit Somaiya. In the last election, Patil’s victory margin over Somaiya was less than 3,000. Thus, the party has gone into an overdrive to see to it that 2014 does not give them anxious moments.
Political observers also say Patil is keen to take this step as none of the six MLAs in the Lok Sabha constituency represented by Patil are from the NCP. While three belong to MNS, two are from BJP and one from Samajwadi Party. Even Patil’s wife Pallavi who had contested from Vikhroli couldn’t win the elections.