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Friday, Nov 22, 2019

Maharashtra polls: BJP’s Ashish Shelar takes on local leader

cities Updated: Oct 17, 2019 00:46 IST
Mehul R Thakkar
Mehul R Thakkar

In Bandra West, a seat that houses several Bollywood celebrities and affluent areas, the fight is between Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)’s Mumbai poster boy Ashish Shelar and Congress’s three-time corporator Asif Zakaria.

Bandra west constituency houses most active citizen activists, along with several film and TV actors and actresses, and is spread around Bandra west, Khar west and Santacruz West, including several high-profile areas such as Bandstand, Carter Road, Pali Hill, Hill Road, Khar Link Road, etc. The constituency has the lowest number of candidates, compared to other constituencies in the city and suburbs.

Shelar wrested the seat, a former Congress bastion, in 2014 from former minister Baba Siddique. He further led the Mumbai BJP to an impressive performance in the 2017 civic polls and was later rewarded a ministerial berth in chief minister Devendra Fadnavis’s cabinet. Shelar is known to share a good rapport with the BJP leadership in Delhi, including Amit Shah.

Apart from the Congress and BJP, the Bahujan Samaj Party has fielded its candidate. A BJP leader said, “It was not that the Modi wave factor alone ensured that the seat is won by the BJP. If you see the numbers, in 2009, too, the victory of the Congress was not by a great margin. It was a close fight between Congress’s Baba Siddique and BJP’s Ashish Shelar.”

While Congress’s Zakaria is doing door-to-door campaigning, the BJP organised rallies and community meetings.

The constituency has a large chunk of minority voters from the Muslim and Christian community.

The Congress claims that Shelar has just created a perception of doing work, but hasn’t done much on ground. Zakaria said, “Shelar is doing nothing, but solving civic issues, which come under the corporation. Residents have been demanding underground Metro corridor instead of elevated, but the state government is not ready to listen to them. Many issues under the ambit of the state, like the one of housing societies in the suburbs having to be paying non-agriculture tax, are not solved. There is no respite from hawkers’ menace, increasing traffic and illegal restaurants.”

Shelar told Hindustan Times, “I have been solving all issues and problems. The Development Plan 2034, which is being implemented by the civic body, looked into several issues. I am quite accessible.”

Bandra West is also known as the education and hospitality hub.

Aftab Siddique from Khar ALM said, “There are so many issues relating to the state which have not been taken up. The state of civic-run schools is bad.” Pooja Surana, a resident of Santacruz, who is also trustee at Gazdar Scheme Residents Trust, said, “My experience with the sitting MLA was good. But some issues such as autorickshaw chaos and illegal parking need to be redressed. We had demanded underground Metro corridor, but the state government has been pushing for elevated corridor.”