Many options, but 4 time MLA from Malabar Hill Lodha in lead

  • Bhavya Dore, Hindustan Times, Mumbai
  • Updated: Oct 11, 2014 19:17 IST

He has had four terms, but could this be his last?

Although seen as the frontrunner, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) candidate Mangal Prabhat Lodha will be in the middle of a three-cornered fight to retain his seat this election.

The other contenders are Congress’ Susieben Shah and the Shiv Sena’s Arvind Dudhwadkar.

The constituency, which is home to some of the city’s richest, comprises areas like Altamount Road and Walkeshwar, but also has a substantial middle-class population in Tardeo and Girgaum.

In the high-rises and among Gujaratis and Marwaris, who by estimates constitute 80,000-odd voters of the 2.75 lakh in the constituency, Lodha, 58, is the go-to person.

“I don’t even know who the other candidates are,” said Dharmesh Kumar, 44, a resident of Warden Road. “When it comes to local issues, Lodha has done a lot.”

Achievements he is trumpeting include facilitating health check-ups, distributing educational material and repairing dilapidated buildings.

However, Dudhwadkar, 54, BEST panel chair man and a corporator, can count on Maharashtrians, who make up about 90,000 voters.

“So far Lodha has been winning because of the Sena’s work; we gave him the base,” he said. “The break-up of the alliance will not affect our chances.”

At MP Mill compound in Tardeo and adjoining areas, the Sena is still strong. “What has the BJP done since it came to power at the Centre?” asked a woman on the campaign trail. “Not one thing.”

At the third point of the triangular contest is Shah, head of the state women’s commission and daughter of former MLA of the area, BA Desai, whose work still resonates in the constituency.

Her best chance is seen in the vote split likely between the BJP and Sena.

The contest has been heating up over the past few days with Lodha lodging complaints against Shah for making defamatory statements through her fliers. On Friday, Shah, wrote to the chief election commissioner alleging partisan behaviour by the returning officer and that Lodha had intimidated her family members while campaigning. She alleged he is using “his money and muscle power”.

Returning officer P Rokade said both candidates had made minor complaints against each other.

The NCP and the MNS have had little impact so far. “No candidate can stand up to Lodha over here,” said NCP taluka president, Mohammed Gaush, 29. “The NCP candidate [Narendra Rane] doesn’t even seem to be campaigning. There has been no communication.”

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