Will Congress score a hat-trick in South Central Mumbai?

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If we leave Vidyadhar Gokhale, Narayan Athawale, Dr. Manohar Joshi, RPI’s Ramdas Athawale (with Congress backing), Pramila Dandavate of Janata Dal, Ahilya Rangnekar of Communist Party then Congress party has strong hold in South Central Mumbai constituency. Once again, the Congress sitting MP Eknath Gaikwad is trying hard to file his nomination for the Lok Sabha Election but senior members are in favour of issuing ticket to former vice Chancellor of Mumbai University and Rajya Sabha member Dr. Bhalchandra Mungekar. In this constituency, competition will intensify as Shiv Sena has issued ticket to Rahul Shewale, Standing Committee Chairman in Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai as its candidate whereas the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena is planning to send Aditya Shirodkar to Lok Sabha. If Congress issues a ticket to Mungekar then Gaikwad won’t be able to complete a hat-trick. A clear picture will emerge only after the Congress party releases the list of its candidates.

During the 1999 general election when Manohar Joshi was elected as representative of this constituency people started saying that it will become a forte of the Shiv Sena. When the 2004 General election was announced Joshi became the Lok Sabha Speaker. Nobody was willing to fight against Dr. Joshi. At the last moment, Congress decided to file the nomination of Eknath Gaikwad the then Congress MLA from Dharavi. To everyone’s surprise, people of South Central constituency sent him to parliament as their representative. In 2009 general election, the Congress decided nominated Gaikwad from same constituency once again and he emerged victorious. This time he defeated Shiv Sena’s candidate Suresh Gambhir. Once again, Gaikwad is ready to contest election, but some senior leaders are opposing him and want tickets to be alloted to Mungekar, a learner and highly educated candidate. Thus Congress can score a hat-trick in the constituency. The decision might be taken at the last moment to avoid any infighting within the party.

Shiv Sena candidate Rahul Shewale, an engineer by profession and is one of the close lieutenants of Sena Chief Uddhav Thackeray. Former Chief Minister and Lok Sabha Speaker, Manohar Joshi was trying hard to get the nod from the high command for contesting from this constituency but Thackeray has turned a blind eye towards him. When Joshi thought that party will not hear him then in one of the public rally, he openly revolted against his party’s senior leaders. After he revolted against the seniors, party has decided to sideline him. Even he thought that the party will field him for the Rajya Sabha once again after the conclusion of his tenure, but Shiv Sena has zeroed in on other leader.

Six assembly seats fall under the South Central Mumbai Parliamentary Constituency. Out of these six constituencies four the Congress party has bagged four seats while MNS and NCP have one seat. Jagannath Shetty (Sion – Koliwada), Chandrakant Handore (Chembur), Varsha Gaikwad (Dharavi) and Kalidas Kodambakar are Congress MLAs whereas Nawab Malik NCP MLA from (Anushakti Nagar) and MNS ‘s Nitin Sardesai is an MLA from Mahim. Thus the Congress position is a bit stronger in this constituency.

Dalits form a major chunk of voters in this area. Both Gaikwad and Mungekar belong to this community.

So, Congress leaders feel that Mungekar will be strong contender this time. In the last general election, MNS candidate Shweta Parulekar has gained more than one lakh votes which enabled the Congress to retain the seat. This time also, it is assumed that if MNS gain more than one lakh votes then it will be a smooth ride for Congress. AAP is yet to declare its candidate from this constituency. If the AAP candidate grabs 50,000 votes then it would prove to be a setback for the Congress.

South Central Mumbai 2009
Eknath Gaikwad (Congress) – 2, 57, 523
Suresh Gambhir (Shiv Sena) – 1, 81,817
Shweta Parulekar (MNS) – 1, 08, 341
Pravin Barve (BSP) – 18, 427

Parvez Khan