Mumbai: The constituency of Andheri West has a mixed population -- there are slum dwellers, the middle class and the upper class. The last-mentioned class includes the 'shining star' quotient that comes to mind each time the suburb with the seeming misnomer is mentioned. Also, important offices and business establishments are located here.
Regardless of the fact that this is the constituency where Bollywood celebrities reside, it is not exactly heaven on earth. Heavy traffic, encroachment on roads, lack of slum redevelopment are the major problems in this area, apart from others.
In Andheri West, almost all parties have fielded candidates, with a total of 15 in the fray, but the contest is largely between the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Indian National Congress (INC). The BJP has decided to continue with its sitting MLA Ameet Satam, while the Congress has put faith in its former MLA from the area, Ashok Jadhav. In 2014, Satam secured 59,022 votes, defeating Jadhav by 24,040 votes, while in 2009, Jadhav had won the seat, defeating the Sena candidate Vishnu Korgaonkar, by 32,158 votes.
Unlike in the adjacent Andheri East and Versova constituencies where the BJP and Sena members have rebelled against their parties (as the seat they desired went to the alliance partner as per seat-sharing arrangements) and are contesting as Independents, in Andheri West, the alliance is facing no such complications.
In the last five years, Satam claims to have carried out the conservation work on Gilbert Hill, beautification of Juhu beach and 25 parks and the renovation of 75 toilets. Satam hit the headlines when he started a campaign against encroachment and hawkers, "In my tenure, I have worked for the betterment of the area and I will continue to do so. Traffic is the major problem in Andheri, now I am planning to start pay-and-parking facilities in private premises such as housing societies, which will be taken care of by Advanced Locality Management (ALMs)," said Satam. "I have worked against hawkers and as a result, some areas are still hawker-free, though they have returned in some parts. If re-elected, I will continue to fight against them," he vowed.
"The slums in Andheri have been neglected for years, there is no proper water supply in these areas and the development that Satam is claiming is of substandard quality. The numbers he is mentioning are exaggerated," alleges Congress candidate Jadhav.
Ramesh Malvankar, a resident of Amboli for the last 50 years, says, "There has been no development of slum areas. Whatever development has occurred is confined to the upper middle class localities. The removal of hawkers from the bylanes of this area has hit their families hard."
Rajesh Dhotre, a resident of Gilbert Hill, said," Water, gutters and (electric) meters have been the issues of this area since I was born. There is no proper water supply to this area, no proper gutter system and every monsoon, our houses are filled with water up to waist-level. Neither is there proper electric supply".