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Shadow lines redrawn

They’ve been together for years, two moderately happy couples. Now, a numbers game is threatening to tear them apart. It’s one of the reasons the Congress and NCP still haven’t decided who gets which seats — just three days before the deadline for filing nominations. Shailesh Gaikwad reports.

mumbai Updated: Sep 23, 2009 00:56 IST
Shailesh Gaikwad

They’ve been together for years, two moderately happy couples. Now, a numbers game is threatening to tear them apart. It’s one of the reasons the Congress and NCP still haven’t decided who gets which seats — just three days before the deadline for filing nominations.

And why the Shiv Sena and BJP are battling to maintain order within the ranks.

Delimitation has erased the bastions of some pretty powerful people, and raised some ugly questions.

Where do they go now? Which constituency will they be given instead, and what happens to the faithful MLAs already ensconced there?

The constituency map was recently redrawn in keeping with the 2001 census. More seat were created in urban areas — which had been left lagging behind, as their populations grew but representation did not.

This is good news for you — your wants and needs are now that much more important, and your vote finally counts as much. But some seats dating back to 1971, when this exercise was last conducted, have disappeared altogether.

With the new distribution of population, most of these are rural seats, which have been merged or carved up and divided between other constituencies.

Leaving powerhouses like Opposition leader Ramdas Kadam of the Shiv Sena without a constituency — Khed in Pune has been swallowed up by Guhagar and BJP MLA Dr Vinay Natu has quit the party and floated his own outfit to fight him for it.

Once the dust has settled, though, the redrawn borders could mean a flood of funds — and political mindspace — for urban Maharashtra in general and Mumbai and Thane in particular.

With 42 per cent of the state now living in the cities and towns, about a third of the Assembly will be elected by urban Maharashtra this time.

And as the urban population rises — it is expected to hit 50 per cent by 2015 — future state governments are already preparing to pander to the cities.

“The delimitation will change the focus and face of the government,” said psephologist and political analyst Uday Nirgudkar.

“The coming government will focus more on urban areas than they used to.”

Analysts say more ministers and even chief ministers may eventually be picked from the cities, particularly the Mumbai-Pune-Thane-Nashik belt.

“Just look at the way the MMRDA [Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority] is investing funds in Mumbai and surrounding areas,” said Nirgudkar. “This is an indication of things to come. The growing urban areas will wield more clout.”

Little wonder, then, that the Congress is more comfortable with leaders like Vilasrao Deshmukh (who kickstarted the Mumbai Makeover) and Ashok Chavan (who is well educated and considered more urban).

And it’s why the Sena is not hesitating to project Uddhav Thackeray as its chief ministerial candidate, since he too is fairly polished and more acceptable to the urban voter.