FPJ Analysis: Why Mumbai Matters

FPJ Analysis: Why Mumbai Matters

For the last three or four decades, the city and its suburbs have voted on issues related to either civic matters or issues such as terrorist attacks or development projects.

Rohit ChandavarkarUpdated: Monday, May 20, 2024, 10:53 AM IST
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While the rest of India will have its eyes on Maharashtra, given that it is the biggest decider and swing state in the 2024 Lok Sabha polls, Maharashtra’s attention seems to be focussed on its capital, Mumbai. Mumbai’'s mysterious ways are more unfathomable than an OTT web series this election season.

The Thackeray cousins, an aggressive BJP, India’s grand old party the Congress and smaller outfits, are all angling for their share of the Mumbai pie.

If there are two factors that are on political activists’ minds this time, these would be the lack of any one major political issue related to the city and the confusion about the changes in election symbols given to various parties by the ECI, such as Uddhav Thackeray’s Shiv Sena and Sharad Pawar’s NCP.

For the last three or four decades, the city and its suburbs have voted on issues related to either civic matters or issues such as terrorist attacks or development projects.

However, this time, there seems to be no single clear issue that is on voters’ minds. The sprawling 450 sq km Mumbai Metropolitan Region, now India’s most buzzing and richest urban space, is faced with the multiple challenges of urbanisation, migration and environmental protection which have perhaps not been spoken about

by politicians, in what has been a hot and dusty campaign over linguistic issues, caste or communal divide.

Why Mumbai matters, is because just like India’s capital New Delhi, Mumbai represents the national mood. The city has a demographic which consists of people of all castes, religions, linguistic groups and migrants from all parts of the country.

Why Mumbai seats are important for political parties?

A win in one of Mumbai’'s constituencies gives the candidate of a political party national acceptance. The other part is financial power. The city contributes 34 per cent of taxes (income tax as well as corporate tax) to the national tax kitty, making it the richest city, and it is also home to the richest municipal corporation in India. Political parties vie with each other for control of the financial capital of India.

Issues in 2019

The 2019 Lok Sabha elections were held in the shadow of the Pulwama terror attack and India'’s response to it at Balakot. The BJP and Uddhav Thackeray’s Shiv Sena fought jointly and won all the six Lok Sabha seats in Mumbai city and suburbs. In 2024, the Shiv Sena, which split from the National Democratic Alliance five years ago, has itself split into two, as has Sharad Pawar’s NCP.

One can clearly see the uncertainty and confusion in the minds of the voters because of these two split parties and the sides switched by their local leaders, who are in touch with the grassroot activists.

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