Slum-dwellers to field candidate in BBMP polls

Fed up with unkept promises and welfare schemes not touching their doorsteps, voters in some slums are thinking of fielding candidates from among them.

Around 30 associations drawn from slums across the City have already held two rounds of discussions in this connection. The decision would make a huge difference to the polls since 30 per cent of the City’s population resides in slums and it is this section that normally casts its vote passionately, says Lakshapathy of ‘People’s Forum’, an NGO.

The NGO, which works with the urban slums, has been instrumental in bringing the associations together for discussions. “Slum associations are working on fielding candidates in ten or 15 of the 198 wards to make a beginning,” he said. The overwhelming opinion among womens’ organisations, youth organisations, domestic workers’ unions and construction workers’ unions spread across the slums is that only the selection of a candidate from their midst could ensure uplift for slum dwellers, Lakshapathy added.

The final round of negotiations to identify the particular wards and candidates will be held on December 29. The Supreme Court hearing related to reservation for Scheduled Castes and Tribes in the wards is scheduled for January 5.

On the inability to spend money for campaign purposes that slum candidates could face, Lakshapathy said the slum population is roughly around 30 lakhs, spread across 1,200 slums. “If a consensus is arrived to field their own candidate and ensure his or her victory, then there might not be a situation where vast sums have to be spent on canvassing,” he felt.

There have been cases of individuals from slums contesting as independents but it is the first time that numerous candidates from slum areas would be fielded as a representative of this section.

“There is much outrage that their lot has not improved over the years. The main factor motivating the move is that accountability would prevail if the candidate hails from within the group,” the NGO representative said.

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