Mumbai : A better choice of candidates could have helped the Congress win more than just the five seats that it did in the city. The party’s tally of Mumbai MLAs came down from 17 to five but it was not solely because of the Modi wave or the anti-incumbency factor.
A poor choice of candidates alienated the traditional voters of the Congress in many constituencies.
For instance, the party fielded Kripashankar Singh in Kalina despite the serious corruption cases against him. Sanjay Potnis of the Shiv Sena, an unknown entity, won from this constituency and Singh finished third with 7,000 votes separating him from Potnis.
The oldest party in India seemed bereft of ideas as well as candidates. It persisted with Annie Shekhar in Colaba although she herself was unwilling to contest because of advancing years. The two-time MLA came third, a good 32,000 votes behind Raj Purohit of the BJP. This means that the slum voters too deserted the Congress here.
Baba Siddique managed to win by a narrow margin in Bandra last time and should have given way for a fresh face but the party reposed its faith in him. Even the Christians of Bandra, who are traditional Congress voters, deserted the party because of Siddique. Ashish Shelar of the BJP trounced him by a margin of 25,000 votes.
Baldev Khosa in Versova should have been replaced by a younger and dynamic candidate. He was beaten comprehensively by a lightweight, Bharati Lavekar of the BJP. Khosa, a veteran MLA, was 27,000 votes behind Lavekar.
Jagannath Shetty from Sion was among the Congress candidates who thought claiming credit for paver blocks and compound walls could win him votes. He finished third in Sion where Tamil Selvan of the BJP scraped through with a slender margin over Mangesh Satamkar of the Sena. Shetty came a distant third with 17,000 votes between him and the winner.
It is strange that the Congress could not find anyone better than Susieben Shah in Malabar Hill. She finished third with 87,000 votes separating her from the winner, Mangal Prabhat Lodha of the BJP.
The Congress thought that it could showcase infrastructure projects such as the monorail and metro and the SCLR and the East island freeway, forgetting the fact that these projects were horribly delayed. For instance, it took them 12 years to make the six-km SCLR!
The Congress did virtually nothing on pubic housing, regulating private builders and creating more parking spaces. And the way it went about shielding the guilty in the Adarsh scam was shameful. Its record on public health is abysmal.
In fact, the Congress should consider itself lucky. Two of their five MLAs have won by a margin of less than 3,000 votes.
In the island city, five-time MLA Kalidas Kolambkar won by a mere 800 votes. He won against the BJP’s Mihir Kotecha in a close contest while Shiv Sena’s Hemant Doke came a far third.
The other Congress MLA who just saved his seat (by 2,303 votes) is Aslam Shaikh. He defeated BJP’s Dr Ram Barot from Malvani.
Amin Patel, outgoing MLA from Mumbadevi, won by a comfortable margin of 8,513 votes while Chandivali MLA Naseem Khan saved his seat by the largest margin of 29,469 votes.
The other Congress MLA to win comfortably was Varsha Gaikwad. She retained her Dharavi seat by 15,328 seats.