Mumbai: A three-cornered contest would be witnessed in the ‘communally-sensitive’ Mahim constituency. The battle would be between the ‘son of the soils’, as all the candidates are Maharashtrians and the constituency has a major Marathi-speaking vote bank.
Sitting MLA Sada Sarvankar of the Shiv Sena is again trying his luck from here, but would be facing a stiff challenge from MNS’s Yeshwant Deshpande and Congress candidate Praveen Naik. The constituency has been a Sena stronghold since 1990s and continues to be so except in 2004 when MNS leader Nitin Sardesai had won a sweeping mandate with a majority of Marathis voting in his favour.
The dominant vote bank is the Marathi-speaking population, and it appears all the three political parties are set to woo the Maharashtrians this time around. It can be said so because from day one the constituency has seen political parties trying their best to get Marathi votes and ever since MNS came into mainstream politics, a division of the Marathi vote bank has been recorded. Even the Congress is set to woo Marathi voters and thus have fielded a local Marathi – Naik, who belongs to the Maratha community.
The constituency with a ‘multilingual’ population, however, has a series of issues, which the citizens want their to-be MLA addressed at the earliest.
According to Ashraf Shaikh, a resident and also an advocate, drug menace is one of the biggest issues in the constituency. “There are many issues, which this area has been facing, especially drug menace. Due to this, other crimes such as theft, chain-snatching and violence, which usually take place lead to serious law and order issues in Mahim,” said Shaikh.
The citizens are also concerned about the unhygienic footpaths, most of which are encroached upon, and also the Mahim beach.
“The Mahim beach is hardly cleaned by the authorities. Also, the creek is polluted at a large scale as the Mithi river dumps all the dirt and filth, it carries from throughout the city, into the Mahim creek,” said Rakesh Singh, another resident.
Adding to the woes of the citizens is the ongoing Metro III work, which has resulted in a huge traffic snarls and left little space for pedestrians. “We are not only facing traffic issues but are compelled to squeeze (with vehicles) in lanes meant for pedestrians,” Shaikh highlighted.
As far as the Marathi voters’ issue is concerned, Congress candidate Naik says ‘loha hi lohe ko katega’ (iron cuts iron). He explained, “Both Sena and MNS usually give tickets to Marathi Manoos to get votes. This time around, our party high command has selected me because I have been a local guy and know the area inside out. Thus, I am confident that my Marathi brothers, would vote for me.”
The trustee of the Siddhivinayak temple — Naik claims to have a series of achievements in his name. He said, “I have done a lot of work in the area and the state while being a trustee of the temple. I have built three temples in the US. I have donated money for farmers, poor citizens, scholarships and so on.”
“Sarvankar has not done anything of this sort despite being an elected representative of people. If I am elected every Mahim resident will be happy,” Naik added.
* 2.35 lakhs
* 60% Hindus
* Over 30,000 Muslim voters
* Over 15,000 Catholics