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What is a 'citizen candidate' doing on saffron hoardings?

Independent from Bandra ward is affiliated to Mumbai 227 -- floated as an alternative to political parties -- but features on Sena-BJP-RPI banners

Voters of ward number 97 in Bandra are confused. Neelima Thakur who is contesting the BMC polls on a ticket provided by Mumbai 227, a platform to launch independent candidates, is confusing them.

Mumbai 227 promotes itself as a non-partisan alternative to political parties that "have failed miserably" to deliver on their promises -- it says so on their website.


Affiliations overlap: Independent candidate Neelima Thakur features
on political banners of the saffron alliance more conspicuously than the
Thackerays, Gopinath Munde and Ramdas Athawale


But Thakur, their selected candidate, surprisingly appears prominently on the political hoardings of the Sena-BJP-RPI(A) alliance.

The hoardings, put up in the vicinity of Reclamation, feature her along with Bal Thackeray and Uddhav, Gopinath Munde and Ramdas Athawale, and announce her as a candidate of Mumbai 227 along with that of the saffron alliance. The incongruity has thrown citizens off-track. But Santosh Avatramani of Mumbai 227 said, "The case with ward 97 is different. Here every political party wants to support our candidate. Besides, the banners have been erected by the parties, not the candidate."

The candidate maintains the reasoning. "They came to support me, and I accepted their support," Thakur said.
Incidentally, the saffron alliance decided to support Thakur after the RPI (A) candidate from ward 97 was disqualified. Sources said Thakur would support the alliance if she wins, but Thakur refutes the claims. "Their support is unconditional. I am still an independent candidate. If I win, my decision would be what Mumbai 227 decides," she said.

But citizens are not convinced. "A prominent citizen candidate became a corporator and in the house, he always voted for Sena's candidate during mayoral elections. It's difficult for a person to resist political pressure once they get partisan backing," said a prominent citizen activist, requesting anonymity.
 
As for the alliance's take on the affiliation, S Metkar, Sena shakha pramukh for ward 97, said, "We have agreed to give her our unconditional support. If she wins, it would depend on her whether she would like to support us. She's educated and cares about the constituency, that's what matters."

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