Bhayandar : With both the alliances snapping their ties in the eleventh hour, the strength of all four major political parties including the NCP, Congress, BJP and Shiv-Sena, has considerably reduced in the Mira Bhayandar assembly segment. This has apparently prompted the candidates to rely largely on caste, community and religion cards in the run up to the assembly polls scheduled on October, 15.

Although this assembly seat is headed towards a multi pronged battle, the main fight is between sitting Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) legislator-Gilbert Mendonca and BJP’s Narendra Mehta. On the other hand Shiv Sena’s Prabhakar Mhatre is yet to gather steam in his campaign.

Political observers believe that in the 2009 polls, it was the presence of the MNS candidate which engineered an evident split in saffron alliance votes paving a virtual cake walk for Mendonca who trounced his BJP rival by a margin of 10,604 votes.

While Mendonca garnered 62,013, Mehta stood second with 51,409, followed by 27,220 votes pocketed by MNS candidate-Chandrakant Vaity. With an addition of 40,000 new voters, the total electoral strength of the Mira Bhayandar assembly segment currently stands at 3.64 lakh.

Suresh Golani

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