That Mysore residents/voters ought to organize themselves to put up their own candidates in the next city corporation election is a thought-provoking proposal. And,if I may add (with due apology to Dr Bhamy Shenoy), it should not go unconsidered merely because the idea comes from a convener of Mysore Grahakara Parishat (MGP). Dr Shenoy cites the Juhu citizens initiative at the recent Mumbai city corporation elections.
Alfred D’Souza, Independent, sponsored by the Juhu residents, polled 4,582 votes, defeating his Congress (3,900 votes) and BJP (3,200) rivals. Polling percentage was 43.These figures reflect:1) Citizens initiative works, if the target we set is modest, and tangible with a definite time-frame; 2) campaign power of the political biggies can be countered with effect; and 3) there is still a log way to go in persuading people to cast their vote, even if it is the fate of their own candidate that is at stake. Political pundits may have other interpretation for the low polling percentage at Juhu.
The Juhu people’s campaign story started six months back (a realistic timeline) when a Juhu corporation area sabha was formed on the Janaagraha concept developed in Bangalore, says Dr Shenoy in a Star of Mysore article (Feb.15, 2007).
A polling booth (Juhu municipal ward had 37) was taken as the primary unit, and about 100 residents from each booth met to choose their area sabha representative (ASR). The grass-roots level meeting had folks from various walks of life in varied age-groups (17-70). Names of persons with candidate potential were sent by various booths. Eventually, a short-list of four was considered at a meeting of area sabha representatives. Mr D’Souza was their choice. Citizens, notably, the prominent ones, canvassed for the people’s candidate. And campaign expenses (Rs.60,000) came from ad. Revenue of a Juhu citizen welfare magazine.
Dr Shenoy, seeing lessons here for Mysorean, suggests a start be made in Mysore. Let’s mobilize citizens from five of the 65 municipal wards, says Dr Shenoy.My first thought is that MGP could make a start in such citizens initiative from its home ground, Yadavagiri, and Dr Shenoy should announce right away that he is not a candidate. Maybe, he is not interested. Besides, elections do not favour ex-IITans, as Dr.Shenoy is well aware. But a public declaration by him, and a few other NGO spokespersons with high media visibility (need I name them?), would help create much needed public trust in citizen’s initiative.
One other thought. A person's political affiliation shouldn't be a factor going against his/her choice as people's candidate.Political parties too often ignore the claims their own workers, which could leave party persons, with good credentials, neither here nor there.