2019 Lok Sabha polls: On the campaign trail with Gopal Shetty in Mumbai North
Over the past month, BJP’s sitting MP Gopal Shetty seems to have covered the length and breadth of his Mumbai North constituency to woo voters for the upcoming Lok Sabha elections.
On Friday, as Shetty begins his day at 9am travelling to parts of Borivli East, his supporters cheered in unison “ Desh ka neta kaisa ho? Gopal bhai jaisa ho!”(Our country’s leader needs to be like Gopal Shetty). As Shetty’s campaign rally enters the Ishwar Nagar slums, local supporters welcome him with crackers and applause.
Travelling in an open vehicle with supporters on bikes, in cars and on foot — some waving the saffron flags while the others beating drums, Shetty waves at the adjoining buildings in the locality.
“We want you all to come out in support of our leader and record a 100% turnout on the polling day. We have to do this in the name of Shivaji, in the name of Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar...,”announces a party volunteer.
Shetty’s opponent is Bollywood actor Urmila Matondkar who is contesting on Congress ticket.
Locals say that Shetty’s accessibility has been his biggest strength.
“He is always there in his office. I had approached him once with a local problem and he solved it, something that even the corporator was not able to do,” said Nalini Shinde, a Borivli resident.
From getting a lookalike of PM Narendra Modi to garnering the support of various communities — the Gujaratis, Maharashtrians and Agri-Kolis, Shetty’s rallies seem to be rich in colour.
In most of his rallies, he often asks people to vote for him so that he can “support Narendra Modi to fight all the problems in the country”.
“We need to elect Modi to resist attacks from Pakistan,” he was also heard saying at a recent rally in Kandivli.
Shetty has also received the support of MLAs from his constituency — Vinod Tawde and Atul Bhatkhalkar — who are seen at major gatherings in the constituency.
He usually campaigns in two to three slots every day, in which evenings are mostly reserved for gatherings or meetings.
“I am not afraid of her as my work in the constituency will help get a large number of votes,” he added.
This year, a total of 18 candidates are contesting from the constituency