Mumbai: “Save Aarey” is the main issue to determine the fate of the candidates in Goregaon area (Mumbai North constituency) which has over 3.27 lakh voter population for the state assembly election. Residents here claim are angry with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led government, which they allege has deliberately enforced felling of trees at Aarey, to make way for Metro III (Colaba-Bandra-SEEPZ) carshed.
A Shiv Sena bastion since 1980, Goregaon is dominated by Marathi vote bank, with their population of 1.2 lakh. But since 2014, the votes have shifted towards the BJP, as Vidya Thakur, the sitting legislator defeated Subhash Desai of the Sena, by a margin of 4,756 votes.
But considering the grave issue Aarey is today, the voters are clear they do not want to support the BJP led government. Vinayak Purandhare, a resident, said, “Aarey is our only forest and this government is destroying it by enforcing development in a natural habitat. In a furtive operation, they cut trees in the middle of the night despite court orders.”
Voters claim the Sena had initially opposed felling of trees in Aarey, but has now switched sides as they are in an alliance with the BJP. Priya Kanchan, a resident, said, “I do not want a government which does not care about the environment. I prefer NOTA rather than choosing a political party which changes sides to be in power.”
Both the BJP and the opposition party leaders are using Aarey for their election campaigns. Thakur refused to comment on the issue but said, “Metro-III is a much needed project for the development of Mumbai.” While Yuvraj Mohite who is contesting from Congress, said, “Aarey is an important issue because we all want development, but definitely not in this manner.”
Apart from the BJP and Sena, Virendra Jadhav, is a candidate contesting from the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) party. Residents highlighted other issues like traffic congestion, lack of good transport facilities and potholes on the Western Express Highway (WEH) as major problems in Goregaon area.
-Felling of Trees at Aarey
-Potholes at WEH
-Lack of good transport facilities