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From Star-Studded Fights to the Raj Thackeray X-Factor, What Battle For Mumbai Looks Like

The emerging X-factor in this contest has been Maharashtra Navnirman Sena founder Raj Thackeray. Although his party hasn’t fielded any candidates, his speeches targeting Narendra Modi and Amit Shah are slated to benefit the opposition alliance.

Vinaya Deshpande | CNN-News18

Updated:April 29, 2019, 8:33 AM IST
From Star-Studded Fights to the Raj Thackeray X-Factor, What Battle For Mumbai Looks Like
Actor-turned-politician Urmila Matondkar campaigns in North Mumbai constituency.

Mumbai: As 17 seats from Maharashtra head to the polls in the fourth phase of the Lok Sabha elections on Monday, some of the most keenly fought contests on the six seats of Mumbai would also culminate. As many as 139 candidates are in the fray in this round which will see a tough fight between the BJP-Shiv Sena alliance and the Congress-Nationalist Congress Party alliance.

The emerging X-factor in this contest has been Maharashtra Navnirman Sena founder Raj Thackeray. Although his party hasn’t fielded any candidates, his speeches targeting Narendra Modi and Amit Shah are slated to benefit the opposition alliance.

The total number of voters in Mumbai this time is 96.39 lakh. Over 10,000 voters in each of the six constituencies will be exercising their franchise for the first time.

Here is how the contest in each of the six constituencies in Mumbai looks like:

Mumbai South:

The high profile constituency which is home to some of the richest Indians including Ratan Tata and Mukesh Ambani will see a two-way fight between incumbent MP Arvind Sawant and ex-Union minister Milind Deora. In the 2014 polls, Shiv Sena’s Arvind Sawant had defeated Milind Deora by 1.28 lakh votes, which was seen as an effect of the Modi wave. This time around, however, two-time MP Deora is sure to make a mark as he has gotten a few bigwig corporate personalities to endorse him.

From skyscrapers to fishermen colonies to old and dilapidated BDD chawls, the constituency comprises a variety of communities and segments.

Deora’s campaign against the Shiv Sena candidate has seen the Congress leader raising an issue over the “criminal cases” against Sawant and slam him for not addressing people’s concerns.

Sawant has, however, proclaimed himself as the voice of the classes and masses.

Sawant’s winning the ‘Best MP’ award during his tenure has definitely been beneficial for the Shiv Sena-BJP cadres.

The MNS factor is also expected to play a significant role in this constituency. In 2009, MNS candidate Bala Nandgaonkar had won 1.59 lakh votes, thereby reducing the vote share of the Shiv Sena-BJP combine. This time again, given the bonhomie between Milind Deora and Raj Thackeray, his campaigning is set to benefit Deora.

Mumbai North

Another fight which will be closely watched is the one between actor-turned-politician Urmila Matondkar and BJP leader and incumbent MP Gopal Shetty. During the 2014 elections, Congress candidate and former President of the Mumbai Regional Congress Committee Sanjay Nirupam had faced a humiliating defeat at Shetty’s hands. Nirupam, who had won the same seat in 2009, was defeated with a margin of nearly 4.5 lakh votes.

Such was the ignominy for the Congress this time that no party leader came ahead to fight from Mumbai North. The grand old party then had to coax Urmila Matondkar to thrown her hat in the ring.

Though both the alliances seem certain of a BJP win, Matondkar has definitely put up a brave fight with NCP chief Sharad Pawar even campaigning for her. Matondkar has also been micro-managing polling day strategy with the help of local MNS workers.

Mumbai North West

This constituency had been a Congress stronghold before it was won over by the Modi wave in 2014. This explains why Sanjay Nirupam, who had refused to be fielded from Mumbai North, has pitched himself from the Mumbai North-West constituency. The late Congress leader Gurudas Kamat clinched victory in several of the past elections here.

Though Nirupam and Kamat were sworn rivals, the former probably found it easier to convince Kamat supporters to campaign for him, instead of fighting from Mumbai North. Standing against Sanjay Nirupam is Shiv Sena’s incumbent MP Gajanan Kirtikar. His flailing health has now been turned into one of the major poll issues with the Congress candidate consistently targeting him over it.

The issues at the forefront are wide-ranging in this constituency which comprises areas like Goregaon, Andheri, Versova, Dindori and Jogeshwari. They include encroachment of mangroves, slum rehabilitation, redevelopment of dilapidated structures and other concerns raised by the fisher-folk community.

Mumbai North Central

This constituency will see another star-studded fight as late BJP leader Pramod Mahajan’s daughter Poonam Mahajan is contesting against Congress’ Priya Dutt, a former Union minister and the daughter of late actors Sunil Dutt and Nargis. Priya Dutt had conceded defeat to Mahajan in 2014 after which she decided to stay away from electoral politics and focus on her Foundation’s work. Congress chief Rahul Gandhi in a recent meeting, however, managed to convince her to contest this time’s election.

The constituency is home to different segments of society including superstars and slum-dwellers. Muslims and Dalits form a sizeable chunk of the voter base. Though Priya Dutt has barely been seen here in the last five years, her grassroots connect has been nothing short of impressive.

Mahajan, in contrary, has not worked as hard in her constituency, some voters say. But she stands to benefit from the fact that five of the six MLAs in the constituency belong to the BJP-Shiv Sena combine. It also remains to be seen how much impact the Vanchit Bahujan Aghadi floated by Prakash Ambedkar will have here.

Mumbai North East

This is the only seat in Mumbai where the BJP has not given a ticket to its incumbent MP. Kirit Somaiyya, the sitting MP from Mumbai North East, lost out on a ticket after the Sena posed an opposition over the leader’s stinging allegations against Uddhav Thackeray. The BJP had to oblige and field Manoj Kotak from here. Kotak is pitted against former Maharashtra minister and NCP leader Sanjay Dina Patil. Considering that nearly half of the population in this constituency is Marathi, the Raj factor is likely to play an important role here.

Mumbai South Central

This has been a Shiv Sena bastion for many years now that is before delimitation led to major boundary changes. Though Congress leader Eknath Gaikwad had won this constituency in 2009, Shiv Sena’s Rahul Shewale won it in 2014. The vast constituency comprises large slum areas including one of Asia’s largest slums - Dharavi. This time around the fight is between incumbent Shiv Sena MP Rahul Shewale, who is a young and dynamic leader; and Eknath Gaikwad, a senior Congress leader.

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| Edited by: Angana Chakrabarti
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