Ashok Rawat was born 69 years ago in a bungalow built in 1936. This snow-white bungalow faces Shivaji Park, the heart of Mahim constituency.
The park is not just another playground, it’s where three political parties — the Shiv Sena, the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) were born — all with the Marathi manoos on top of their agenda. But today, the Marathi manoos feels none of these parties have done enough in Mahim constituency of 2.56 lakh voters.
“Shivaji Park is one of Mumbai’s most neglected grounds. It is only used for political gain,” said Ashok remembering the days when it nurtured iconic cricketers like Sunil Gavaskar.
“Loudspeakers used for political events blare all day. The bigger the personality addressing the rally, the greater the security threat to us,” said his 78-year-old sister Lalita Rawat.
And just like Shivaji Park, which sports a barren look with just a small green patch used by cricketers and the rest used for pandals, voters feel neglected and taken for granted.
“We grew up seeing the Sena take root. Then the Thackerays split and we are now seeing a new party coming up, a replica of the Sena. Then Sada Sarvankar, who was the face of the Sena for years in the area, joins the Congress. What are we supposed to do?” said 50-year-old Shailesh Bendre, a resident of Kabutar Khana locality.
The Sena has fielded actor Adesh Bandekar as its candidate, which made sitting MLA Sarvankar defect to the Congress. The MNS has fielded developer Nitin Sardesai, a close aide of Raj Thackeray.
“The issue of old buildings is a major issue, which the MLAs are encashing on by keeping alive,” said Ashok.
Sardesai disagrees. “It is the first thing that I have promised to take care of. There are old buildings grappling with infrastructure problems,” he said.
Bandekar has a different plan. “I will take a broom in my hand and, with Shiv Sainiks, clean the roads in Mahim. I want the constituency to look pretty,” he said.