Meet your Candidate
organised a "Meet Your Candidate" session @ Bandra
last Saturday for the Mumbai North Central Constituency with
candidates from all the contesting parties agreeing to a dialogue
with the citizenry of the constituency.I got an invite to
the meet via CRY.CRY was there to present the charter of demands
pertaining to child rights to the would-be netas.I reached
there much before the stipulated time only to find that I
was at the wrong venue. The venue was Apostolic Carmel High
School on Hill Road. I hastily reached there and the audience
was in abundance with mostly Christians around since they
constitute a majority here. This can be attributed to the
Portuguese invasion of Bombay which resulted in the Portuguese
handing over the territories of Bandra, Wadala, Sion, Parel
to the Jesuit priests.
As is usual, the meeting
started at 6 pm "Indian" Standard Time. But still a couple
of candidates out of a total of four were stuck in the chaos of
the Mumbai traffic or so we were told.
The dialogue commenced
with two candidates namely Mr. Mahesh Jethmalani , lawyer and son
of Mr. Ram Jethmalani , from BJP and his Congress counterpart Ms.
Priya Dutt from Congress. They gave an introduction of their agenda
regarding the upcoming elections. While Priya promised better healthcare,
better standard of living to the residents ; Mahesh's pitch revolved
around making available the promised funds for making Mumbai an
international financial centre , betterment of Dharavi slums , the
Metro Rail Project and the cleanup and development of the much talked
about Mithi River.There was a three member panel from Agni to ask
questions pertaining to various civic issues like the Nagar Raj
Bill , the usage of MPLAD funds , Mumbai police reforms , global
warming , education , healthcare among others.
, the Nagar Raj Bill aims to accomplish the objectives that
the Panchayat Raj system - the third revolution in India after
the Green and the White one - set out to achieve ; that of
devolution of power and responsibility to the aam aadmi at
the grass root level.It aims to divide each municipal ward
into several "Areas" , each consisting of about
3000 voters.The voting population of an area would be called
an Area Sabha with some powers.So basically , the Area Sabha
would be the urban counterpart of the existing concept of
a Gram Sabha (remember civics anyone ?).But owing to some
ill amendments from the Maharashtra Govt. , the proposed bill
stands as it is.Hence , it has turned into political fodder
for all parties alike.Both Priya and Mahesh agreed to get
the bill passed in its primitive form.
Since the other two
candidates could not make it to the meet , the battle was between
the BJP and the Congress ; probably an indication of things to come
in the Parliament with most of the BJP / Cong leaders just brushing
aside the concept of the so-called Third Front.Most people think
that the Third Front will come third. The issue of police reforms
is in vogue in these elections courtesy the terrorist attacks in
Mumbai last November.The strength of the Mumbai police force stands
at 41,914 out of which 12803 personnel work their asses off securing
our esteemed politicians , creme-de-la-creme of the bureaucracy
, bollywood personalities and other some other individuals.All this
of course from the taxpayer's rupee.So what would our netas do to
give the aam aadmi better security ? Priya Dutt said that she herself
does not travel with any security and she does not think that politicians
and others should use the security at their own cost.Mahesh shared
her thoughts but neither of them gave a concrete answer regarding
a termination to such issue.
The BJP has found
a new agenda this time around in the name of "black money".Mahesh
very strongly echoed the party's prime ministerial candidate Mr.
L.K.Advani's thought that the trillions of dollars that have been
stashed away in Swiss bank accounts need to be brought back and
employed towards the betterment of the poor here.While all this
is being said , the Congress high command has dubbed the figures
produced as "fake" and the entire incident as a "hoax".As
a matter of fact even high profile columnists have also dismissed
the figures that Mr.Advani has been singing about as incorrect,
to say the least.
(Refer : http://www.telegraphindia.com/archives/archive.html(17/04/2009)
May be , the BJP in
its bid to find a concrete agenda to contest polls has found it
in the construction of the Ram Temple at Ayodhya and the return
of "black money".The Hindutva-vani is back and the campaign
against swiss bank accounts has for the first time being made into
a national agenda.It would be interesting to see how many of the
BJP politicos find their bank accounts being probed into and seeing
their wares being made public , that is if Mr.Advani manages to
pull this thing off.Similar cries have been made in the US of late
with the US govt asking UBS to furnish the details of American "secret"
accounts.It has been sucessful only to a small extent though since
the Swiss banks have the backing of their govt. on this issue of
secrecy.If the US with its political and economic clout can manage
only a meagre success , the extent of India's pursuit can only be
determined in due course of time.
At some point of time
in the meeting, while answering a question on the security of minorities
, Mahesh made a mention of the communal violence in Orissa and in
his true legal fashion tried to clear BJP of the blame. He managed
to offend a whole lot of Christians by his remarks. They accused
that both Kerala and Orissa - the states where the issues of communal
violence between Hindus and Christians and that of religious conversions
were prominent - were BJP ruled states.Temperatures rose and the
police had to intervene to ward off a certain man who was furious
about the conversions issue.
During the course
of the meeting, Priya I thought didn't sound confident on almost
all issues. Mahesh , on the other hand , the lawyer that he is ,
provided a better insight on all issues.But the good old saying
that we learnt in school "Actions speak louder than words"
rings in our minds and let us see who delivers.As a testimony to
all the promises that they made, AGNI made both of them sign a charter
of demands that they would/should adhere to after the election episode
is done and over with.
Jimit Shah I have completed my engineering from Mumbai
University and was working with Oracle Financial Services Ltd. for
the past two years. But as fate would have it , I resigned from
my job and am looking for a new one. A voracious reader spanning
business, finance, politics, marketing, media & entertainment,
I have developed a liking for writing of late. I write on my blog
jimitnshah.blogspot.com these days.
Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article above are purely
those of the Contributing Writer.