Mumbai: Tired of a
self-serving political class repeatedly letting down their beloved
city and not content with just griping about it, a group of Mumbaikars is contesting the upcoming civic polls with a single
agenda -- change.
The independent candidates, with no political background, are
being supported by an umbrella organisation called 'Mumbai 227' --
named after the 227 wards under the Brihanmumbai Municipal
The group was formed a few months ago by people like former
director general of police of Punjab and ex-ambassador to Romania,
Julio F. Ribeiro, former chief secretary and ex-BMC chief V.S.
Ranganathan and former additional chief secretary (home) Chandra
Iyengar, who is on the advisory board of Mumbai 227.
The group is supporting 60 independent candidates across the city
for the Feb 16 polls.
The candidates include a theatre actor, Right to Information (RTI)
activists, teachers, an IITian, chartered accountants, a food
adulteration racket buster, a taxi driver, lawyers, teachers,
social activists, event managers, a policeman's wife and a host of
Among them is retired captain Vijay Shivdasani, 69, a former naval
officer commander of the aircraft carrier INS Vikrant.
"I am truly overwhelmed by the public response but feel exhausted
by the electioneering process," Shivdasani told IANS.
The 'action' on the political scene was proving a tad too much for
the former navyman, who effortlessly took part in attacks on
Karachi and the then East Pakistan in the Bay of Bengal before it
took birth as Bangladesh, landing commandos in the Andaman and
Nicobar Islands, or shepherding top Indian leaders like Indira
Gandhi and her son Rajiv Gandhi when they visited installations as
His ward is No.227, comprising the RC Church, Colaba Dandi and
Navy Nagar, the place where he was born, lived and worked.
Allotted a ceiling fan as his poll symbol, Shivdasani rues that
the election department does not appear to take independent
"All kinds of hurdles are created at different levels. Even the
poll symbols are allotted too late, which we are not able to
publicise sufficiently," said Shivdasani, who is pitted against 12
other candidates in the small ward.
Shivdasani has been campaigning door-to-door, admitting that it's
a tough job, especially as political parties have their own base
and a fixed number of votes to rely on.
According to a spokesperson of Mumbai 227, the candidates have
been selected by a panel including Rebeiro, Ranganathan and
"We want to bring in transparency and accountability in governance
by bringing good people, of high integrity with innovative
thinking, into the system," spokesperson Santosh A. said, adding
that keeping in mind the city's cosmopolitan character, people
from all backgrounds have been fielded.
He said that even if 10-15 percent of their candidates emerge
victorious, it'll send out an important message -- that politics
should not be abhorred by the middle-class and people do care for
good, clean candidates.
While the group tries to cover the poll expenses through the
donations it raises, most candidates don't mind spending from
their own pockets.
All the candidates also support the Jan Lokpal Bill mooted by Team
Anna, he added.
Some of the Mumbai 227-supported candidates include Harishchandra
Savla, who is fighting against milk and food adulteration, Varsha
Jain, a writer and lyricist, Ward No.150 (TungveVillage-Chandivli
Village), Ashwani Kadam, wife of a cop, Ward No.195 (Ranjeet
Studios Naigaum-BDD Chawl) who is fighting for the rights of
tenants and sanitation.
(Quaid Najmi can be contacted at email@example.com)