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Thursday, Nov 14, 2019

Maharashtra polls: Shiv Sena hopes to get second-time lucky

cities Updated: Oct 17, 2019 00:48 IST
Aroosa Ahmed
Aroosa Ahmed

An overflowing Mithi flooding homes, roads and tracks every monsoon; rehabilitation of those residing along the river and near the international airport; revamp of dilapidated buildings and slums; and increasing traffic snarls — these are some of the issues that have been impacting the lives of 4.5 lakh residents of Kurla and Kalina constituencies, and will be the main deciding factor in the state Assembly elections.

The two constituencies include Air India colony, Tilak Nagar, Nehru Nagar, Swadeshi Mills, Kurla village, Wadia estate, Santacruz Cantonment, among other areas, majorly comprising of slum dwellers. While Marathi-speaking voters are dominant in both Kalina and Kurla, the constituencies also have a sizeable population of members of the Dalits, Muslim and Christian communities.

Residents of low-lying areas in Kurla and Kalina are forced to evacuate their houses every monsoon owing to the overflowing Mithi. Though the widening of the river has been undertaken at different spots, the river has flooded their homes thrice this monsoon. “Every year during monsoon, whenever the river overflows, we are forced to evacuate. There has been no substantial development here apart from a bridge built after the 2005 deluge. Rehabilitation of people is being announced for the past 10 years, but it’s still yet to be completed,” said Ramdhup Yadav, a resident of Kranti Nagar in Kurla.

Activists say apart from Mithi, increasing traffic snarls in both the constituencies, a result of encroachments and lack of road infrastructure, has had a major impact on residents’ lives. “The majority of people residing along the Mithi river have been rehabilitated, while others are in the process. Traffic snarls in both Kurla and Kalina have increased over the years and is a major issue for the people. Road infrastructure development in both the constituencies is important,” said Anil Galgali, an RTI activist and a local resident.

“We have sold our four-wheeler ,thanks to the increased traffic. There is major congestion on vital roads including LBS Marg, Santacruz-Link Road flyover and western express highway near Kalina even during non-peak hours. Roads and their maintenance have been ignored over the years,” said Ankita Khema, a Kurla resident.

A BJP leader from Kalina said rehabilitation and widening of Mithi have been the major issues discussed with residents. “These issues will be addressed post the election,” said the leader.

Both constituencies had been a stronghold of the Congress for over a decade, until 2014. With parties like All India Majlis-e-Ittehad-ul-Muslimeen (AIMIM) and Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) failing to tie up, the votes were distributed, as a result of which the Sena managed to break in and take charge in 2014. Six candidates, from the Shiv Sena, NCP, Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS), Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), AIMIM and Ambedkaraite Party of India, are contesting from Kurla.

A total of 14 candidates, from the Sena, Congress, MNS, AIMIM, and Ambedkaraite Party of India, are vying for Kalina Assembly seat, including two independents.

The contest in both the constituencies is likely to be direct. The absence of a Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) candidate owing to its alliance with the Sena could work in the latter’s favour. The sitting Sena MLA from Kurla, Mangesh Kudalkar, had defeated NCP MLA Milind Kamble in the 2014 Assembly polls by more than 20,000 votes, while Sanjay Potnis, the Sena MLA from Kalina, defeated Congress MLA Krupashankar Singh.

Fielding Kudalkar, 48, and Potnis, 58, once again, the Sena appears to be positive about a second-time win.

In Kurla, the NCP has given a ticket again to Kamble, 50; the MNS has fielded Appasaheb Ananadarao Avchare, 49; and the AIMIM’s candidate is advocate Ratnakar Davane, 49. In Kalina, the Congress has fielded former corporator George Abraham, 64; the MNS has given a ticket to Sanjay Turde, 43; and the AIMIM has fielded Sufiyan Sayed, 39.

In the Lok Sabha election of 2019, Poonam Mahajan, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) candidate from the North Central constituency that constitutes Kurla and Kalina Assembly constituencies, won with a margin of 1.30 lakhs against Congress’s Priya Dutt.