‘Golden triangle’ key to election outcome

Mumbai: The Golden Triangle of Maharashtra is expected to have a crucial bearing on who forms the next government in the state after the assembly elections on Wednesday.

This triangle, comprising the Mumbai metropolitan region, Pune and Nashik, will impact the voting trend in three of the six regions of the state — Konkan, Western Maharashtra and Northern Maharashtra. It is spread over six districts and encom-passes over a dozen Lok Sabha constituencies and over 100 of the 288 assembly seats.

“Probably that is the reason why Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressed as many as five rallies in this region,” a political observer said. Hardly any other political leader, except Sharad Pawar, addressed so many rallies here. Shiv Sena leader Uddhav Thackeray, too, addressed a few rallies but Congress President Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi skirted the area all-together.

“Going by the trends, the contest would be fierce here. The four-way split might not help the Congress and the NCP to overcome anti incumbency, and in fact the Shiv Sena and the BJP both might gain,” a political observer said.

The largely urban Golden Triangle is the economic powerhouse of Maharashtra, politically active and has rich and diverse cultures. It has a sizeable migrant population and is extremely cosmopolitan. Political families dominate the region, which include the Thackerays, the Pawars, the Bhujbals, the Naiks and the Ranes.

The Golden Triangle also houses cash-rich civic corporations — Mumbai, Thane, Mira-Bhayender, Vasai-Virar, Bhiwandi, Kalyan-Dombivli, Ulhasnagar, Navi Mumbai, Pune, Pimpri-Chinchwad, Nashik and Malegaon. The political control also varies and all the five parties – the Congress, the BJP, the Shiv Sena, the NCP and the MNS — have a presence here.

As far as the 2014 Lok Sabha elections are concerned only one seat in this triangle — that of Baramati — was with Supriya Sule, daughter of NCP President Sharad Pawar. The rest of the seats — six in Mumbai, four in Thane, three in Nashik and three in Pune — went to the Shiv Sena and the BJP.

The connectivity between Mumbai-Pune-Nashik is good but there are issues of infrastructure, housing, urbanisation, migration to these places from hinterland of Maharashtra and other parts of the country, especially North India. The proposed Navi Mumbai International Airport and the Pune International Airport have not yet taken off, and nor has the Mumbai Trans-Harbour Link.

The Congress and the NCP are facing anti-incumbency and this would go against them. But the overweening presence of Modi in the campaign and the targeting of the prime minister by the two Thackeray cousins will impact the voting, it is being said.

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