Unpredictable verdict for Mumbai

Mumbai is ready for polls in the third and final phase of voting in the state. Till last moment candidates in Mumbai were wilting it out through their constituencies by various means to woo the voters. All six constituencies, Mumbai South, Mumbai South Central, Mumbai North Central, Mumbai North West, Mumbai North East and Mumbai North go to polls on April 24 in the third phase of LS elections. A 98.14 lakh strong electorate will decide the fate of 116 candidates including 52 independents. BJP brought Modimany times to convince people across Maharashtra to turn votes in their favourand in a same way,Congress brought Rahul Gandhi.SharadPawar gave a very disappointing show. In their capacity, all candidates tried their level best to impress the voters and media. They were best inpromoting themselves. They campaigned and interacted with people well. Meanwhile,AamAadmi Party also made its debutant entry in a state and city and marked its presence. Efforts are being made to get Mumbaikars out for voting as it has track record of poor voter percentage.

In 2009, 43.4 per cent electorate out of the eligible 95 lakh had exercised their franchise. In five years, the voter population has also increased. In the suburbs, 3.5 lakh pledge forms have been distributed in schools, colleges where students have been asked to get it filled from their parents taking a pledge that they will vote. In addition, 2.5 lakh pledge forms have been filled from citizens during an awareness campaign by BMC. Hoardings have been put up at bus stations/terminals, railway stations, tall buildings, traffic signals, skywalks. Various government agencies are reaching out to various sections of the society to ensure that the voter turnout is good. Announcements are being made at railway stations urging people to vote on April 24.

All six constituencies in Mumbai are set to witness either triangular or quadruple contests, while Congress-NCP will fight to retain its bastions against the Opposition onslaught banking on a “Modi wave”. As many as 116 candidates are in the fray, which are currently held by the Congress-NCP. In Mumbai, around 75 lakh people will vote on April 24. One of the most high profile contests is the battle for the South Mumbai seat. Incumbent Congress MP MilindDeora is being challenged by banker-turned politician MeeraSanyal from the AamAadmi Party, ArvindSawant of the Shiv Sena and BalaNandgaonkar of the MNS. Deora has spent most of the time for campaigning.

MilindDeorais hoping to repeat2009, when the MNS cut into the Shiv Sena vote bank helping him to sail through. However, this time ShivSena is seen strong in position due to ‘Modi wave’ and sympathy for late Balasaheb Thackeray. This time MNS and Shiv Sena may rather cut Congress votes. Traffic congestion, old dilapidated buildings are major issues in this election, whosoever comes they will take time to improve things. Meanwhile, looking at the way AamAadmi Party is being welcomed,MeeraSanyal’s chances can’t be neglected. In the suburbs, the Mumbai North East sitting NCP MP Sanjay Dina Patil has been accused of being missing. The Association of Democratic Reforms (ADR) has ranked him as the worst performing MP in Maharashtra. He was never there to attend people’s queries.

AAP candidate and social activist MedhaPatkar, who has worked for the huge slum population and BJP leader KiritSomaiya who lost by 3000 votes in 2009 are biggest challenges to Patil. Last time the division of votes had benefitted the NCP. If MNS, BJP and Shiv Sena come together then this constituency gives 70 per cent votes to KiritSomaiya.

Sitting Congress MP from Mumbai North constituency Sanjay Nirupam has been campaigning non-stop. Almost, every day he has arranged a press conference, met people from morning till night. In 2009, he was pitted against senior BJP leader Ram Naik;Nirupam won by a slender margin of 5000 votes. His attendance is 89 per cent which is more than national average of the Parliament.As far as his working in the constituency is concerned, it is not upto the mark. However, BJP’s GopalShetty seems much more relaxed. His focus is on the large Gujarati community as a votebank and on transportation and infrastructure. Meanwhile, the factor which matters here is turnout of voters. Mumbai which has displayed voter’s apathy in previous elections will hopefully fare better this time.

Another noteworthy fact is the deployment of MP Local Area Development (MPLAD)Fund within the constituencies by the six MPs. Sadly, the six MPs together could deploy only 49.8 per cent of the funds allocated to them. MilindDeora (INC) from South Mumbai utilised almost 54 per cent of the funds, followed closely by Sanjay Patil (NCP) and Sanjay Nirupam (INC) utilising 48 per cent and 58 per cent respectively. Of the total fund (49.8 per cent) utilised, 25 per cent was utilised on construction of toilets, 22.6 per cent was utilised for constructing community welfare centre (community centre, gymnasium, weather shed, sports complex, cemeteries, library, Open Stage etc.). Education and health witnessed only 2.2 per cent and 1.9 per centutilisation from the MPLAD. EknathGaikwad (INC), the only SSC passed MP from South Central Mumbai – rest are all graduates – is clearly the best performer in the parliament. Sanjay Patil of NCP from North East Mumbai is second in the number of questions, having asked 459 questions during the five-year term. GurudasKamat of INC representing North West Mumbai asked only one question in five years. As Mumbai fixes to go to polls, major political parties have put all their strength behind their candidates fighting on the six LokSabha seats in the city. Let’s see who makes it to power.