Lok Sabha Elections 2024: Police Deny Permissions For Joint Meeting Of Mumbai South Candidates With Residents

Lok Sabha Elections 2024: Police Deny Permissions For Joint Meeting Of Mumbai South Candidates With Residents

The residents’ associations said they were disappointed about the cancellation of the meeting.

FPJ News ServiceUpdated: Sunday, May 12, 2024, 10:59 PM IST
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Left To Right Shiv Sena (UBT) MP Arvind Sawant, Shiv Sena Leader Yamini Jadhav | FPJ

Worried about a fight between supporters of the two Shiv Senas, Malabar Hill police station did not allow a meeting on Sunday evening at Kamala Nehru Park, Malabar Hill, where candidates from the two major political alliances for Mumbai South parliamentary seat were scheduled to meet residents together.

Mumbai South is being contested by the two factions of the Shiv Sena. Arvind Sawant, the sitting Member of Parliament (MP) from Shiv Sena (UBT), which is part of the Maha Vikas Aghadi, is pitted against Yamini Jadhav of Chief Minister Eknath Shinde’s Shiv Sena, a constituent of Mahayuti, the NDA-led coalition which rules the state. Sawant met the residents separately in the evening.

The residents’ associations said they were disappointed about the cancellation of the meeting. In a statement, the Altamount Road Area Citizens’ Committee, the Breach Candy ALM, Nepean Sea Road Residents’ Forum, and Peddar Road Residents’ Association, said, ‘Although we received the necessary approvals from the BMC to host this gathering, the Mumbai Police have expressed concerns about the potential for confrontations among supporters of opposing candidates. Consequently, Mumbai Police have decided not to permit this event in a public area to ensure the safety and security of all involved.’

Other residents felt it was right for the police to deny permission for the meeting. Indrani Malkani, Chairman Trustee, V Citizens Action Network (VCAN), a public group working with the Election Commission to increase citizens' participation in the electoral process, and a resident of the area said said, "I had witnessed a clash between supporters of the Shiv Sena and the MNS, which had split from the party, in a public hall in 2009. Kamala Nehru Park is a children's park and the police could have anticipated problems if a large number of supporters from the rival groups had gathered."   

"We understand the importance of this democratic event, which aimed to promote informed voting among our residents, and are deeply disappointed that we will not be able to proceed as planned," the statement added.

Vinay Punjabi, treasurer of the Nepean Sea Residents Forum, said that they had permission from the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) to hold the meeting between 6.00 and 8.00 pm. “We did not have any particular issue to discuss with the candidates, but we were looking forward to meeting the candidates. We were all set to find out what they had for us. However, we wanted to know what security arrangements were available, so we approached the police,” said Punjabi.

A senior police officer from Malabar Hill police station said, "The organisers have to approach the Election Commission. They approached us, and we informed them of the process, they should apply to the Election Coordinator Officer. The Election Commission needs permission from the police and BMC; then the EC will approach us. We do not have the authority to grant or refuse permission for these kinds of events."

Meanwhile, only one candidate turned up at the Action for Good Governance and Networking in India (AGNI)’s ‘Meet your Candidate’ discussion in Bandra on Sunday morning. Candidates for Mumbai North Central parliamentary seat - Congress Party’s Varsha Gaikwad, who is the Maha Vikas Aghadi candidate, and senior lawyer Ujjwal Nikam, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) nominee – were to attend the discussion at a venue on 33rd Road. Gaikwad turned up at the meeting.

Residents of the area said they were hoping to discuss their complaints about road concretisation which has left the area in a mess, building redevelopment projects which has strained the area’s infrastructure, changes in criminal laws to make it stringent, and changes in Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) rules.

Madhu Poplai, AGNI coordinator for Bandra-Khar and secretary of Pali Hill Residents Association, said that the representative for Nikam called them on Saturday to inform them that due to prior commitments, he will not be able to attend. “I told them that we had taken dates two days back and had made arrangements. They (the candidates) had confirmed with us. Accordingly we took permissions. We had prepared posters and sent out messages on social media,” said Poplai.

Gaikwad later put out a message on micro-blogging site, ‘X’. ‘I'd been looking forward to debating with my opponent from the BJP on issues that matter to the people, but unfortunately he chose not to turn up to the event. Sad!!’

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