AAP hopes for Kejri kayo in Navi Mumbai

Updated: Feb 15, 2020, 07:53 IST | Hemal Ashar | Mumbai

Party opens throttle for Navi Mumbai civic polls buoyed by Delhi win; insists contesting 111 seats is not out of their ken

Preparations underway at Ramlila Maidan for the oath-taking ceremony of AAP’s government, in New Delhi. Pic/PTI
Preparations underway at Ramlila Maidan for the oath-taking ceremony of AAP’s government, in New Delhi. Pic/PTI

The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) is hoping to do a Kejriwal kayo in Navi Mumbai. The party volunteers, who are still basking in the adrenalin rush post the Delhi win, talk about replicating a 'Delhi model' in Navi Mumbai. Yet, Delhi is Delhi and Navi Mumbai is Navi Mumbai and can the twain ever meet?
According to Priti Shindekar, convenor of AAP's Navi Mumbai Women's Wing, "Certain aspects do meet. In fact, so many Navi Mumbaikars are asking us to set up 'mohalla clinics' in the region, like we have in Delhi."

Political debutants
Shindekar said Navi Mumbai was always on the AAP radar.

"The Navi Mumbai municipal elections will be held in April but we started work a few months ago." The AAP team said a 25-member committee is the "engine driving the organisational part of the campaign." Shindekar added, "Delhi has also made it easier for some people to understand that common people can join politics. Earlier, when AAP volunteers would ask people to join the party, they would retort — 'How can I be a politician? I am just an ordinary person'. A Delhi win has shown them that even laypersons can join politics. I am a housewife but part of the party." Shindekar said that they have zeroed in on a couple of candidates for the elections, "we may have approximately 40 now." Even with the shortfall, though she does not think 111 seats is a stretch, she said, "We will find the candidates eventually."

School rule
AAP New Mumbai committee member, Komesh Chaurasia, said, "We are getting a tremendous response, post Delhi. Currently, we have three offices in Navi Mumbai, at Koparkhairane, Nerul and Airoli, but people are offering us space elsewhere in Navi Mumbai to set up offices. We are fielding so many calls from ordinary people who want to join the party. We are looking into the educational scenario here. Private schools are increasing their fees every year by 10 to 15 per cent, so we are being urged to look into it. We, as a party, would also work to give more teeth to Parent Teacher Associations (PTAs) in schools."

The AAP's state secretary, Dhananjay Shinde said, "My phone has been ringing non-stop since our Delhi win, with a lot of people expressing interest in joining the party. We are going to ride that tide moving into Navi Mumbai, where our candidates will have to match three prime criteria, the three Cs — there should be no corruption charges on them, no criminal charges and the candidate should not be communal."

The AAP workers said that it was unlikely that Delhi Chief Minister, Arvind Kejriwal would come to Navi Mumbai for the run-up, but Pramod Mahajan said, "We always tell our volunteers, do not just look for the upper management, try to become an Arvind Kejriwalji in your own way."

Mahajan, who is Navi Mumbai secretary and spokesperson, said, "We have 1.5 months to go for the Navi Mumbai elections. We have about 25 candidates now but we are looking to contest 111 seats. The AAP had a celebration in Vashi from 8.30 am culminating in a victory rally when we won Delhi and you should have seen the interest of locals there, with so many asking us how they could join the party. There are those who claim we have no known faces, but we have our finger on the people's pulse. Many are fed up with the khichdi (mix) in Navi Mumbai politics too. They are looking for an option and we are that alternative."

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