Face-off between Shiv Sena, Congress both dominated Chembur briefly, due to Narayan Rane factor

Mumbai: One of the largest suburbs in eastern Mumbai — Chembur — will see a tough fight between ace rivals Prakash Phaterpekar of the Shiv Sena and Chandrakant Handore of the Congress.

A former corporator, Phaterpekar defeated two-time MLA Handore in the 2014 assembly poll and continues to have a strong hold on the constituency.

It would be congruous to say Chembur was initially dominated by Sena and subsequently by Congress, briefly. The obvious reason for which the area was important was it was the stronghold of Narayan Rane and his workers.

When Rane was in Sena, most corporators, MLAs and MPs were from the saffron party. But after he crossed over to Congress, the latter basked in his reflected glory here. But the failure of Rane’s men to maintain law and order eventually led to his decline in the region.

As far as Phaterpekar is concerned, he is one of the easily accessible lawmakers in the city, often spotted walking the streets like a common man, unescorted by security.

He has dominated Chembur right from his days as a corporator and his legacy was being carried on by his daughter Suprada, who replaced him as corporator until 2017, when the seat was reserved for the SC category.

Even if Phaterpekar enjoys a sort of stardom for being a ‘down-to-earth Bhau’ (brother), he is facing vehement opposition this time and his victory prospects are not as promising, owing to his 'poor performance’.

According to Rajkumar Singh, a resident of Chembur, “Even if Phaterpekar is down to earth, we do not want only good-natured lawmakers but a performer.

He has failed miserably to work towards the betterment of the constituency.” “For instance, there are numerous potholes outside his own office near 12th Road. He is unable to get them filled. So, how can one expect him to handle the entire Chembur constituency,” Singh asks.

Another resident, Roshni, a first-time voter, says the last time Phaterpekar won was due to the ‘Modi wave’.

“I doubt if he will win again because last time it was the Modi wave that brought him to power. But given the atmosphere today, I think Phaterpekar may lose,” said Roshni.

However, in his defence, Phaterpekar has published a booklet detailing his achievements in the last five years.

“I have been the best performer till date. Right from cemeteries to other public facilities such as toilets, I have worked for everything to ensure Chemburkars get the best facilities,” Phaterpekar said.

The sitting MLA’s claims are however punctured by former MP Eknath Gaikwad, presently the chief of Congresses Mumbai unit.

“It is a joke. How can Phaterpekar take credit for whatever Handore, who was the then guardian minister, and I did. He wants to take credit for others’ works, That is quite evident from the fact that he takes credit for the Chembur festival, the collective effort of common citizens not politicians,” Gaikwad told The Free Press Journal.

“The law and order situation is ruined in the Chembur constituency and nearby areas. He has failed miserably on all fronts,” Gaikwad said.

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