In politics, visibility is key and a party must hoist its flag every spot it gets to hold sway: the Nationalist Congress Party concedes it is a tad late to learn the lesson its counterparts in the state have mastered.
So, in a bid to reaffirm its identity, it has asked its cadres to wave the party flag atop their homes, on the streets, at its local offices, and if there are no offices then to rent a space and mark it with NCP insignia. Not just the flag, but any party emblems like posters, stickers, photos of party patriarchs and so on are welcome.
“If the Shiv Sena cadres, the MNS cadres can do this, that is put up Bal Thackeray’s and Raj Thackeray’s and other leaders’ pictures in their homes and hoist party flags, why can’t the people of the NCP identify themselves with the party they follow?” asks the president of the party’s Mumbai unit, Sanjay Dina Patil.
On familiar lines
The party even wants its members to own a place that can be a shakha where locals can congregate and converse, address issues dogging the political landscape and help the NCP flourish at grassroots levels.
NCP Mumbai chief Patil is satisfied even if the workers rent a place in case they can’t own it, and “if they can’t afford the rent, then let the workers put up four chairs outside their homes and meet people and discuss the goings-on of the party”. He has asked all party men to display their mobile numbers on any hoardings they put up.
According to Patil, the shakha system, sculpted by the Sena, has been replicated by the MNS, so why not his party men? “Every time I erect any hoardings, I see to it that it has the relevant mobile numbers so people can get in touch with us whenever they want.
The message to the party men is simple: help the public, take our party programmes to the common man, and make themselves more approachable by identifying themselves as NCP workers. If they can’t solve a problem, they can bring it to the notice of top leaders and we will look into it. We have our ministers and leaders at the top, who can help the common man,” says Patil.
Behind the blitz
The brainwave that birthed this self-assertion drive came from Udyapratap Singh of the Mumbai NCP, who pitched the idea to the party president a few days ago. He proclaimed at a meeting, “We want our people to be identified. We have even asked our workers to put up billboards at chowks and display all important contact details to connect with the public.”
To understand the party’s newfound zeal for staking claim on its territory, it has to be noted that in Mumbai, the NCP doesn’t find itself among the top four parties. The Congress has 53 seats in the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation, the Sena has over 76, the BJP 32 and the MNS 28. The NCP, however, has 14 seats.