By Quaid Najmi
Mumbai, April 27 (IANS) Mumbais six Lok Sabha constituencies will be among 17 that go to the polls in the fourth-final phase of 2019 elections on April 29, in areas that include the countrys commercial-glamour capital, the Mumbai Metropolitan Region, a world-famous pilgrimage centre and some of the most backward tribal hamlets.
Among the contestants are union minister of state for defence Subhash Bhamre in Dhule, Urmila Matondkar in Mumbai North and Amol Kolhe in Shirur, Nationalist Congress Party chief Sharad Pawar’s grand-nephew Parth Ajit Pawar in Maval, and Sameer Bhujbal from Nashik.
Key constituencies are Nandurbar (ST), Dhule, Dindori (ST), Nashik, Palghar (ST), Bhiwandi, Kalyan,Thane, Mumbai North, Mumbai North-West, Mumbai North-East, Mumbai North-Central, Mumbai South-Central, Mumbai South, Maval, Shirur, and Shirdi (SC).
The common problems of these constituencies concern infrastructure, better commuting and connectivity, water problems, employment, congestion in the urban centres and affordable housing.
MUMBAI NORTH: Bollywood actress Urmila Matondkar is challenging BJP’s strongman Gopal Shetty in this erstwhile party stronghold. Earlier, the constituency had elected stalwarts like S. A. Dange, V. K. Krishna Menon, Mrinal Gore, Ram Naik, actor Govinda Ahuja and former Mumbai Congress chief Sanjay Nirupam.
It is one of the three seats in the state which has a glamour-world candidate.
The constituency has an electorate of 17,83,870, among whom 9,72,645 are male voters and 8,11,225 female voters.
MUMBAI NORTH-EAST: The constituency which gave three union ministers – Subramanian Swamy, Pramod Mahajan, Gurudas Kamat – will see a contest between BJP’s Manoj Kotak and NCP’s former MP Sanjay Dina Patil.
The seat led to a bitter stand-off between the BJP and the Shiv Sena – the latter was strongly opposed to BJP repeating its candidate Kirit Somaiya and threatened to break the alliance which compelled the BJP to nominate Kotak.
The constituency has 16,68,347 voters comprising 9,23,011 males and 7,45,342 females.
MUMBAI NORTH-WEST: The Shiv Sena has renominated its sitting MP Gajanan C. Kirtikar who wrested the seat from the Congress’s Gurudas Kamat in 2014. The constituency includes a significant portion of Mumbai’s ‘Glamour Crescent’, the other end of which ends in Mumbai North-Central constituency.
Kirtikar will contest against former Mumbai Congress president Sanjay Nirupam, an ex-Shiv Sainik and three-time MP making his fourth bid for Parliament.
The constituency has an electorate of 17,75,428 including 9,86,908 men and 7,88,520 women.
MUMBAI NORTH-CENTRAL: This is one of the only two constituencies in the state having a direct woman-to-woman fight (the other is Baramati) between the scions of two political families – sitting BJP MP Poonam Mahajan and three-time ex-Congress MP Priya Dutt. Both are daughters of stalwarts and former union ministers – the late Pramod Mahajan and the late Sunil Dutt, respectively, and are now in a close fight for the prestigious seat.
One of the two constituencies in the city (the other being Mumbai North) which has elected a filmstar in the past, it is part of the ‘Glamour Crescent’ with a total 17,38,894 voters comprising 9,67,474 males and 7,71,420 females.
MUMBAI SOUTH-CENTRAL: It houses Asia’s biggest slum, Dharavi, besides several affluent pockets. Shiv Sena’s Rahul Shewale is the sitting MP. He is pitted against former city chief of Congress, ex-MP Eknath Gaikwad.
The constituency with some swank new business districts, mega-housing complexes and the congested slums of Dharavi, has an electorate of 14,47,885 including 7,93,801 men and 6,54,084 women.
MUMBAI SOUTH: A small but prestigious constituency, this time former MP and union minister Milind M. Deora is hoping to wrest it back from Sena’s sitting MP Arvind Sawant. Deora recently got a big shot in the arm when top players of India Inc. came out in open support for him, besides the business and trading communities.
This constituency – which has given four union ministers, including George Fernandes, Murli Deora, Jaywantiben Mehta and Milind Deora – comprises large tracts of VVIP areas of the city, affluent pockets, middle and lower-middle class localities with a total of 14,85,846 voters comprising 8,28,964 males and 6,56,882 females.
NANDURBAR (ST): Nandurbar, a reserved Scheduled Tribe seat, is a challenging seat for sitting BJP MP, (Dr.) Heena Gavit, fighting against Congress’s K. C. Padavi. A former strongman, nine-time MP and union minister Manikrao H. Gavit, 85, is upset as the Congress denied the party ticket to him and his son Bharat, but the MNS and the Mahagathbandhan support may help Padavi.
Nandurbar has been a Congress bastion since 1967, and this from where former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi had launched her election campaigns. It was first wrested by the BJP’s Heena V. Gavit during the Modi wave in 2014. Of the six reserved assembly segments, all ST, four are held by the Congress and two are with the BJP.
The constituency has a predominantly rural-tribal electorate of 16,72,715 – which includes 8,52,379 men and 8,20,336 women.
DHULE: Dhule is a prestige seat with BJP’s Union Minister of State for Defence (Dr) Subhas Bhamre seeking re-election, fighting against Congress legislator Kunal R. Patil, the son of party strongman and ex-minister Rohidas Patil. However, the Congress has been facing problems of infighting which may mar Patil’s prospects in the seat with 16,74,469 voters comprising 8,78,610 males and 7,95,895 females.
DINDORI (ST): Facing a triangular contest this time, Dindori had elected a BJP MP twice – in 2009 and 2014 – and of the two reserved assembly segments, Dindori is with the NCP and Kalvan is with the CPI-M since 2014.
The tribal-dominated Dindori could pose problems for the BJP which dropped its sitting two-time MP, Harishchandra D. Chavan in favour of recent defector from NCP, Bharti P. Pawar, whom he had defeated in 2014 by a margin of 2.45 lakh votes.
She is locking horns with NCP’s Dhanraj Mahale and CPI(M)’s Jiva Pandu Gavit in the constituency with a total electorate of 15,30,139 including 8,08,018 men and 7.22,121 women.
NASHIK: A key battle will unfold in Nashik, with NCP’s Sameer Bhujbal, nephew of former Deputy Chief Minister Chhagan Bhujbal, challenging the sitting Shiv Sena MP, Hemant Godse.
Sameer Bhujbal and Godse will lock horns amidst the backdrop of both the uncle-nephew being jailed – Chhagan Bhujbal for two years and Sameer Bhujbal for one-and-half years – in a money-laundering case filed by the Enforcement Directorate (ED).
Bhujbal, a former Mumbai Mayor and close the founder-patriarch of Shiv Sena, the late Bal Thackeray, suddenly quit in 1991, and was rewarded with a ministry in the Congress government.
This time, Godse faces an uphill task with the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) supporting Sameer Bhujbal, and also Congress-NCP led Mahagathbandhan.
The constituency has 15,93,237 voters including 5,24,572 men and 7,42,780 women.
PALGHAR (ST): This ST reserved seat had virtually threatened to split the newly-stitched BJP-Sena alliance. A local party, BahujanVikas Aghadi (BVA)’s Baliram S. Jadhav won in 2009, and later BJP’s Chintaman Vanaga in 2014 and again (BJPs) Rajendra Gavit in the 2018 by-elections. This time, Gavit is contesting on a Shiv Sena ticket on a ‘seat swap’
The challenge is from former BVA MP Baliram S. Jadhav, who has the support of the 56-party Congress-NCP led Mahagathbandhan in the state. Since 2014, of the four reserved assembly segments, the BVA holds Boisar, Shiv Sena rules in Palghar and the BJP holds Dahanu and Vikramgad.
The constituency has a total electorate of 15,78,077, including 8,30,432 men and 7,47,645 women.
BHIWANDI: Once minority-dominated and ranked ‘communally-sensitive’, this powerloom town elected Congress’s Suresh K. Taware in 2009, who was replaced by a prominent Kunbi community leader, Vishwanath R. Patil. However, he was trounced by BJP’s Kapil M. Patil in 2014.
This time, Taware will lock horns again with Patil in the constituency with 16,96,598 voters comprising 9,45,405 males and 7,51,184 females.
KALYAN: Sitting MP of the Shiv Sena, Shrikant Shinde, is the son of party strongman and Maharashtra Minister Eknath Shinde. Shrikant Shinde had defeated NCP’s Anand P. Paranjpe, a former Shiv Sena MP in 2014, in this Sena bastion.
This time NCP has fielded a veteran social worker and municipal corporator Babaji B. Patil against him (Shinde) in the constituency with a total electorate of 19,22,045 including 10,45,495 men and 8,76,551 women.
THANE: Again a Shiv Sena bastion, its sitting MP Rajan Vichare is contesting against the NCP’s Anand P. Paranjpe, who is the son of former four-time Sena MP, the late Prakash Paranjpe.
Though elected in a bypoll in 2008 on a Sena ticket, Paranjpe lost to the NCP’s Sanjeev G. Naik in the constituency with 20,73,442 voters comprising 11,42,158 males and 9,31,284 females.
MAVAL: This is a prestige seat, with Parth Ajit Pawar, son of former Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar and grand-nephew of NCP supremo Sharad Pawar, contesting from Maval.
Parth is pitted against Shiv Sena’s sitting MP Shrirang C. Barne.
The constituency, part of which falls in the MMR, has an electorate of 19,53,741 including 10,35,960 men and 9,17,781 women.
SHIRUR: There’s a dash of glamour in the form of television actor Amol Kolhe – famed for the roles of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj and Chhatrapati Sambhaji Maharaj – contesting on an NCP ticket.
Kolhe had left the Shiv Sena to join the NCP two months ago and is now hoping to wrest the Shirur seat from three-time sitting Sena MP Shivajirao A. Patil.
The constituency has 18,24,112 voters comprising 9,73,236 males and 8,50,876 females.
SHIRDI (SC): Shirdi has been held by the Shiv Sena since 2009 and its two reserved assembly segments – Shrirampur (SC) and Akole (ST) – are held by Congress legislators. Its two reserved assembly segments, Akole and Shrirampur are held by NCP and Congress respectively, besides two each (unreserved assembly seats) by the Congress and BJP.
Famed for the Shri Saibaba Temple which entered the country’s aviation map last year, it will see a contest beween Shiv Sena’s sitting MP Sadashiv Lokhande and the Congress’s Bhausaheb M Kamble, a legislator from Shrirampur.
The constituency has an electorate of 14,59,712, including 7,65,921 men and 6,93,791 women.
(Quaid Najmi can be contacted at [email protected])