The city will witness a five-cornered fight during the upcoming polls, but in Bandra (West) the contest will be between Congress MLA Baba Siddiqui and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) Mumbai president Ashish Shelar.
Shelar, a former corporator from Bandra, will be contesting the Assembly election for the second time, while Siddiqui is a three-time elected Congress MLA. The BJP leader had lost with a slim margin of 1,691 votes during the last assembly elections.
With two such strong contenders in the constituency, the other three parties have cautiously fielded candidates who may split the votes.
For instance, the Shiv Sena, which is now contesting alone, has fielded former corporator Vilas Chawri. He enjoys support from a small part in Khar Danda and the Kohli community.
The Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) has fielded Tushar Aphale, who has support of locals from Bandra Reclamation and nearby pockets.
Both Chawri and Aphale are expected to divide Marathi votes, while Nationalist Congress Party’s (NCP) Asif Bhamla may eat in to Siddiqui’s vote share.
However, realising that the main battle will be between the Congress and BJP candidates, citizen groups, too, have jumped into the fray. Seven to eight residents’ associations are supporting Shelar and Siddiqui each.
Officials from citizen groups such as Pali Hill Residents’ Association, Union Park Residents’ Association, Bandra West Residents’ Association, Bandra Bandstand Residents’ Trust have written about Siddiqui’s work in a supplement, which has been distributed to all residents. Another set of associations are going door to door to garner support for Shelar. However, these groups did not wish to be named.
“If one group will come to promote Baba Siddiqui today, another group will come asking us to vote for Shelar,” said Shreyashi Deshmukh, a Hill road resident.