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Friday, Nov 15, 2019

Maharashtra polls: Shiv Sena-BJP fight to retain Andheri seats

cities Updated: Oct 18, 2019 01:37 IST
Steffy Thevar
Steffy Thevar

The Andheri East and West constituencies — which are plagued by waterlogged roads and potholes every monsoons, apart from hawkers’ menace — will witness the sitting MLAs from the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Shiv Sena take on the Congress, Maharashtra Navnirman Sena and independent candidates in this state Assembly elections.

In Andheri West, sitting BJP MLA Ameet Satam is up against and former MLA Ashok Jadhav of Congress and MNS’s Kishor Rane. In Andheri East, sitting Shiv Sena MLA Ramesh Latke is up against former BJP councillor from Marol, Murji Patel, who is contesting as an independent candidate, and sitting Congress councillor Amin Kutty from Bhavani Nagar.

Andheri West includes high-profile areas such as Juhu, apart from middle-class localities like DN Nagar, Tata Colony, and Juhu Koliwada and parts of Versova.Residents here have been fighting heavy traffic, bad roads, waterlogging, encroachments and slow redevelopment in slums for years.

There are a total of 3.05 lakh voters in this constituency, which has a significant amount of Maharashtrian and Muslim voters, followed by north Indian voters, wherein the BJP hopes to cash in.

During the 2014 elections, Satam won over Jadhav over a difference of more than 25,000 votes.

Satam has been campaigning through corner meetings and door-to-door meets to reach out to voters. “I have developed over 25 open plots and installed over 1,000 street lights in my area. I am connected with people, not just on ground but also through social media.”

However, Jadhav has criticised Satam for focusing only on beautification. “Satam has only carried out beautification work and taken credit for the work that I have done. I have been a councillor for two terms and an MLA from 2009 to 2014. In these five years,I have been in touch with the people and so I am confident that I will win.”

Kanta Mukherjee, founder and chairperson of Juhu-Versova Advanced Locality Management (ALM) said Satam is accessible and responsive. “The amount of work he has done in the past five years is comparatively more than what the previous MLA did. If Satam is elected again, we would like him to focus on hawkers’ menace and cleaning of beaches and completion of the recreational centre project at Juhu beach,” he said.

On the other side, Andheri East also faces issues like waterlogging in and around Marol and the western express highway, potholed roads, slum redevelopment, shortage of clean drinking water in slums, problems in drainage system, illegal parking and encroachment on roads.

The Saturday Bazar at JB Nagar, originally meant for the fisherfolk, has now been taken over by other hawkers who occupy the entire road, leaving no space for vehicles.

Some of the areas in this constituency are Gundavali, Chakala, SEEPZ Colony, Marol and Bhavani Nagar. There are 2,73,509 voters in this constituency, majority of who are from the Marathi community, followed by north Indians.

In the 2014 Assembly election, Latke had won the seat with a margin of over 5,000 votes against BJP candidate Sunil Yadav and Congress’s Suresh Shetty.

Latke said, “I have carried out multiple works in my constituency. I successfully got ₹50 crore from the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) to the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation to carry out stormwater drain works across the western express highway. I am confident that I would win as in the last election, even without the alliance I had won.”

However, Patel has found support from local citizens’ group. Godfrey Pimenta, member of Watchdog Foundation said, “We will support Murji Patel in this election because Ramesh Latke has not at all been accessible in the past five years. Patel and his wife Kesarben have worked a lot in their wards. For over ten years now, Andheri Kurla road has been in shambles and the current concretisation work is not helping traffic as there is no proper coordination.”

Meanwhile, sitting councillor Amin Kutty from the Congress is relying on his work for votes. He said, “I am campaigning through padyatras and door to door campaigning. Now that I am visiting areas and meeting people, I have noticed that the current MLA has not carried out any work, nor has he been accessible in the past five years. I just campaigned in Subhash Nagar and there are open gutters, no drainage lines, no proper water supply, and so many issues are still pending. I have support from the party and on Friday, actor Shatrughan Sinha will campaign for us, and congress leader Suresh Shetty was also with me during the last road show.”

Patel, while campaigning in his area in Marol said, “Both me and my wife have worked extensively in our wards. I have been actively present among the people attending to their complaints. I am contesting from this area as an independent because the ticket was given to NDA alliance Shiv Sena and I am sure that I will win.”