SWARAJ India, the newly formed political party under the leadership of Yogendra Yadav and Prashant Bhushan, will not contest the Mumbai civic election, but will support at least six candidates in their respective campaigns. Though the party is not fielding any candidate in Mumbai, 22 candidates will contest polls in the neighbouring Thane Municipal Corporation under the Swaraj India banner.
Shakil Ahmed, the general secretary of the party coordinating the activities for the civic elections in the city, said they have decided to support six candidates, mostly social activists, from their areas. They include Nitin Kubal from ward 77 in Jogeshwari East, Sarika Kardak from ward 126 in Ghatkopar representing Janata Dal party, Shaikh Mushtari Firdosh from ward 49 in Ambujwadi, Gorakh Awadh from ward 151 in Chembur representing the Bharatiya Republican Paksha Bahujan Mahasangh, Mandeep Singh from ward 177 in Sion Koliwada and Vijay Dalvi from ward 176 in Matunga.
Ahmed said the party would appoint volunteers to help with the candidates’ campaign. “We are thinking of assigning five volunteers to each ward who can help them with their social media campaign. We will help them create a profile on Facebook and spread information about their work among the people in the ward. Our party leaders will also attend their programmes to support them,” he said.
The candidates aim to pick civic issues which have been neglected by sitting corporators in the past five years. One of the candidates, 42-year-old Kubal, who is contesting for the second time, stated that during his campaign he intends to address the lack of development in his ward. “Development of amenities like roads, sewerage lines and water supply has not progressed beyond a point and the SRA projects have come to a standstill since 1993. There are no open spaces for children or even a fire brigade in Jogeshwari either. But the development around the Oberoi Towers has happened unhindered. We will ensure that the civic body’s attention should be on needs of the masses as well,” he said. Kubal works for the organisation, Janata Jagruti Manch.
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Another candidate, 40-year-old Awadh, who is contesting from Chembur for the first time, pointed out that issues like acute shortage of toilet seats as well as presence of a filthy nullah which is causing malaria and dengue in the area have been overlooked for a long time.
“There is a major nullah in our area which hasn’t been cleaned properly for the past 10 years and few are aware of the fact that 16 people have died of malaria and three have died due to dengue in the area in the past years. Also, while the norms state that there should be one toilet seat for 30 people, there are around 4300 families living in the area with access to just 24 toilet seats of which only 10 are for women,” he said.
The party, which was launched in New Delhi in October last year, had initially intended to field at least 50 candidates for the BMC elections. However, due to the delay in registering the party with the Election Commission, plans of fielding candidates in Mumbai were dropped.
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