THEY CALL themselves ‘conscience keepers’ of the voters. They are supporting not more then eight Independents. They are Bombay’s leading citizens-the much-hyped former Deputy Commissioner Govindrao Khairnar, supercop Julio Rebeiro, former municipal commissioners S S Tinaikar and J B Deouza and Hindustani Andolan chief Madhu Mehta.
They loathe the word “party” so much, that they themselves have not formed any group and are working together on an informal basis. Seven out of eight candidates that they are backing are from Pune and belong to the Pune-based Maharashtra Military Academy (MMA). One is from Thane.
The MMA compromised retired armed forces personnel, academicians, social workers and the Pune intelligentsia. The seven candidates that the MMA is fielding this time as an experiment include former editor Dwarkanath Lele, who used to edit the Sakal newspaper. Besides Mr Lele, the other candidates include retired colonels, brigadiers and academicians.
The only other candidate that Bombay’s conscience keepers are backing is Dr Vijay Bedekar in thane. Dr Bedekar and his father are well-known social workers. Mr. Rebeiro while addressing a meeting at Thane addressing a meeting at Thane on Tuesday, made it clear that he not intended to join politics and was there to support the people who wanted to serve the citizens without becoming party members.
Speaking to The Pioneer, Mr Rebeiro explained the rationale of backing just eight independents: “Seven out of the eight candidates belong to the MMA which consists of retired army personnel. The MMA is a committed group, which has been fighting for the citizen’s cause for several years. I feel that we are backing those candidates who are known for their integrity and commitment. It is an experiment and I hope we succeed.”
Indeed, so careful has been the selection of the Independent candidates that an advance “resignation letter” has been obtained from them in case they join a political party. In any case, so sure are Mr Tinaikar and Mr. Rebeiro of the integrity of their candidates that in spite of their advancing age prior commitments, they have gone to Pune to campaign for them.
Whether the Independents succeed against the might of established candidates remains to be seen. However, it is, indeed, a creditable experience. As Mr Tinaikar explains: “Pandit Nehru used to induct people like John Mathai and Justice Chagla, persons who were not politicians. We need ordinary people, people who are not politicians and who do not have any biased party views. It is for the people to accept our initiative.” Will the common person, fed-up with the ilk of politicians, accept such candidates? Time only will tell.
By Ketan Tanna