Mumbai : Mumbai, where the Congress held 17 of the 36 assembly seats in last assembly elections and is expected to go for Shiv Sena and BJP even after their split, will decide fate of many political bigwigs.
Several top politicians like Congressman Kripshankar Singh, who is close to 10 Janpath, BJP’s Vinod Tawde, the Leader of Opposition in Legislative Council, former Textile and Minority Affairs Minister Naseem Khan, former Mayor Subha Raul, who had switched from Shiv Sena to MNS, Geeta Gawli of Akhil Bharatiya Sena, who is the daughter of jailed underworld don Arun Gawli, and legendary singer Mohammed Rafi’s son Mohammed Shahed Rafi of the All India Majlis Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM). Shiv Sena leader Subhash Desai, who is considered a close aide of Shiv Sena President Uddhav Thackeray, is contesting from Mumbai while Samajwadi Party’s state unit chief Abu Asim Azmi too is trying his luck.
The city would clearly see a five-cornered contest involving Congress, NCP, BJP, Shiv Sena and MNS and a lot of Independent candidates and smaller parties too in fray, which would eat away votes of the candidates of the mainstream parties.
The Gujarati-Marathi divide is blown up as a major issue after the Sena-BJP split besides the Marathi-manoos and North Indian influx issue. Development of Mumbai and making it into an international financial capital is a demand of one and all besides better commuting services and slum-free Mumbai.
Mumbai faces its own challenge of infrastructure – but in the last five years, the Mono Rail has been commissioned, the Metro Rail has been commissioned, several link roads, flyovers have come up, but still lot needs to be done. There are slums and highrises – and that Mumbai needs to be developed further is something that cannot be denied.
Over the last 10 to 15 years, the government would have invested several crores – in five figures – but Mumbai has its own dynamics and challenges.
The faction-ridden Mumbai Congress hopes to turn the tide against the Sena and BJP by highlighting the differences between the two saffron parties. While, it remains to be seen how the MNS which bagged six seats in the megapolis in 2009 is able to retain its vote share this time, observers feel.
The key seats would be Andheri East from where Health Minister Suresh Shetty is seeking a fourth term; Chandivali where Arif Naseem Khan is contesting; Dharavi where Women and Child Welfare Minister Varsha Gaikwad is the candidate and Kalina where former Mumbai Congress chief Kripashankar Singh, accused in disproportionate assets case, is testing his luck.
While Leader of Opposition in Legislative Council Vinod Tawde is contesting from Borivali, considered a safe seat, and Mumbai BJP chief Ashish Shelar is making a fresh bid to defeat sitting Congress MLA Baba Siddique from Bandra west.
Shiv Sena leader Subhash Desai is seeking re-election from Goregaon.
In 2014 Lok Sabha polls, Congress got a lead only in Mumbadevi and Byculla assembly segments of South Mumbai while the NCP had gained in Mankhurd-Shivajinagar in North East Mumbai. Congress-NCP lost all the six parliamentary seats to the Sena-BJP combine. Moreover, the AIMIM has fielded candidate in Mumbadevi along with a few other constituencies in the state. This factor too can have a significant impact on the results.
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Key seats and prominent candidates
Mumbadevi: Atul Shah (BJP), Mohammed Shahed Rafi
(All India Majlis Ittehadul Muslimeen)
Byculla: Geeta Gawli (Akhil Bharatiya Sena)
Dharavi: Varsha Gaikwad (Congress)
Malabar Hill: Mangal Prabhat Lodha (BJP)
Sewri: Bala Nandgaonkar (MNS)
Kalina: Kripashankar Singh (Congress)
Goregaon: Subhash Desai (Shiv Sena)
Borivali: Vinod Tawde (BJP)
Chandivali: Naseem Khan (Congress)
Anushakti Nagar: Nawab Malik (NCP)
Mankhurd-Shivajinagar: Abu Azmi (Samajwadi Party)
Bhandup (West): Shishir Shinde (MNS)
Ghatkopar: Ram Kadam (BJP)