Union Minister Piyush Goyal Kicks Off Mumbai North Campaign Amidst Maha Yuti Seat-Sharing Uncertainty

Union Minister Piyush Goyal Kicks Off Mumbai North Campaign Amidst Maha Yuti Seat-Sharing Uncertainty

After praying at the famed Siddhivinayak temple and traveling by a local train, he has begun meeting people and appealing for votes.

S BalakrishnanUpdated: Friday, March 15, 2024, 09:41 PM IST
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Even though the Maha Yuti is still to arrive at a seat-sharing agreement, Union Minister for Commerce Piyush Goyal (59) has already commenced his campaign for the upcoming Lok Sabha election. He has been fielded from Mumbai North seat, which is perceived to be a BJP bastion. After praying at the famed Siddhivinayak temple and traveling by a local train, he has begun meeting people and appealing for votes. He is trying to impress upon people why it is necessary to give a third term to PM Narendra Modi.

This is the first time Mr. Goyal, a chartered accountant by profession, is facing the hustle-bustle of electioneering, since thrice he had entered Parliament through the Rajya Sabha route. A resident of Nepeansea Road, he has his roots in the Matunga-Sion area where he studied and lived for several years in a spacious flat in the "Amber" building behind S.I.E.S. College.

He has a strong RSS background since his father, the late Ved Prakash Goyal, was a senior leader of the Sangh Parivar known for his proximity to the late Atal Bihari Vajpayee. Goyal Sr was the party treasurer for several years and his low-profile style of functioning was much appreciated in party circles. The family was so close to Mr. Vajpayee that the latter preferred to stay with the Goyals whenever he came to Mumbai as a party leader. Piyush's mother, Chandrakanta Goyal, was also active in the party and was elected to the Maharashtra assembly twice from Matunga; in 1990 and 1995. Piyush campaigned for his mother as a youngster and learned the ropes of electoral politics at a young age. Several top leaders of the Sangh Parivar used to visit his Sion home which helped him get close to them.

Widely regarded as the blue-eyed boy of Modi, he earned the trust of the PM through sheer hard work and was inducted into the Union minister where he has acquitted himself well. It may be recalled that he was the main interlocutor on behalf of the government during the recent agitation of farmers. As a suave leader, he has excellent connections with India Inc. which has already started rallying around him for the polls in the commercial capital of the country.

Indications are that he will be given a very major responsibility if the BJP returns to power. Apparently, it was Modi's decision to field him from a safe constituency and in consultation with Deputy CM Devendra Fadnavis, it was decided to make him stand from Mumbai North even if it meant doing injustice to sitting party MP and veteran leader Gopal Shetty. Sources said Shetty, who is miffed because of the denial of the ticket, will be rehabilitated post the polls.

Mumbai North consists of the assembly segments of Borivli, Dahisar, Magathane, Kandivli, Charkop, and Malad West. Four of the seats have BJP MLAs (Sunil Rane - Borivli), Manisha Chaudhary (Dahisar), Yogesh Sagar (Charkop), Atul Bhatkhalkar (Kandivli) while Magathane MLA Prakash Surve is an MLA of the Shiv Sena led by CM Shinde, an ally of the BJP. Aslam Shaikh of the Congress is from Malad, but he is known to be close to Fadnavis. Political observers say that Goyal's victory is certain, but they also warn that overconfidence may prove costly. The issues of price rise, unemployment, slum redevelopment are very much relevant here and the opposition is sure to exploit them. Meanwhile, there is not much demand for the Mumbai North seat among the opposition MVA alliance since defeating the BJP here appears to be an uphill task.

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