2019 Lok Sabha polls: In Mumbai’s BJP stronghold, Urmila Matondkar reaches out to Gujaratis
Urmila Matondkar, Congress’s star candidate in Mumbai North, is reaching out to the Gujarati community in the constituency. Over the past week, the actress has met several community leaders, women groups and traders in the constituency to get their support.
The Borivli-Kandivli belt is considered to be a BJP stronghold with most Gujaratis, constituting almost 24% of the total population here, supporting it. While most critics of the Congress candidate had said that breaking into the community would be a tough task for Matondkar, her efforts in the past one week show that she wishes to change the narrative.
At an event organised by the party’s Gujarati cell in Borivli on Thursday evening, she spoke in Gujarati. “The community has done a lot for the growth of this city and the country. Many people of the community had supported the BJP government in 2014, but today as the country is witnessing their divisive politics, we need to choose the Congress over them.”
A senior party member said, “Gujaratis are the second-largest community in the constituency after the Maharashtrians, who constitute 28-29%. While most Maharashtrians are already in favour of Matondkar, getting good support from Gujratis and Jains will help increase the vote share.”
“While a lot of Gujaratis had already supported Congress earlier, this time the party’s victory has become more urgent as that’s the only way to save our country from existing issues. We are confident the party will come to power in the constituency this time,” said Mehul Gosalia, president, North Mumbai Gujarati cell of the Congress.
On Wednesday morning, Matondkar met a group of women and appealed them to support her as a woman candidate who wanted to bring about a difference. “There are a lot of issues in the constituency that need to be addressed from infrastructural issues to issues with respect to open spaces, which we hope a new candidate would be able to solve if given an opportunity,” said Mamta Shah, a 55-year-old homemaker from Borivli. She also met a group of small traders in Malad and spoke about the issues that they are facing after demonetisation and GST.
On Sunday, Matondkar will be joined by Patidar leader Hardik Patel at a joint rally led by the party in Andheri.
Gopal Shetty, sitting BJP MP and Urmila’s opponent said that nothing can defeat the party’s hold over Gujaratis in the constituency. “I am a household product in the community as I have worked extensively with the people and for people. The Congress candidate has just come and has no work to show to people here and we are sure that their mandate will be in our favour yet again,” he added.