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Lok Sabha elections 2019: Low turnout in Congress bastion of South Central may give Sena a high

Rahul Shewale, the sitting MP, is facing veteran Congress leader Eknath Gaikwad in this constituency, which spreads from Dadar to Anushakti Nagar.

lok sabha elections Updated: Apr 30, 2019 07:55 IST
Kailash Korde
Kailash Korde
Hindustan Times, Mumbai
congress,anushkati nagar,dadar
Security personnel outside a relatively empty polling booth at Antop Hill warehouse complex. (Vijayanand Gupta/HT Photo)

Mumbai South Central registered a voter turnout of 55.35% on Monday, a slightly higher figure than what the constituency recorded in 2014 — 53.09%. A break-up of the turnout by Assembly constituencies suggested an advantage for the Bharatiya Janata Party-Shiv Sena candidate Rahul Shewale. This is because Wadala and Mahim, traditionally Sena strongholds, had a substantially better turnout than Dharavi, a Congress stronghold. However, it is still expected to be a close contest.

While Mahim and Wadala registered 55.78% and 56.92% turnouts respectively, Dharavi recorded 47.10%.

Shewale, the sitting MP, is facing veteran Congress leader Eknath Gaikwad in this constituency, which spreads from Dadar to Anushakti Nagar.

In the remaining Assembly segments in the constituency, voter turnout was 53.79% at Anushakti Nagar, 55.75 % at Chembur and 52.97% at Sion Koliwada. A total of 14.40 lakh voters exercised their franchise.

Presently, Dharavi and Wadala Assembly segments are with Congress, while Sion-Koliwada is with BJP . The remaining three are with Shiv Sena.

The low turnout at Dharavi, which has a number of slums, and higher turnout in Wadala, where Congress MLA Kalidas Kolambkar openly came out in support of Shewale, is seen as a disadvantage for Gaikwad.

In the South Central constituency, Maharashtrians are a majority with 41% followed by Muslims [19%], North Indians [14%], South Indians [11%] and Gujaratis [7%].

Apart from this, there are a large number of Dalit voters in Chembur, Wadala, and other areas. They are expected to play a significant role in determining the victor.

Congress is banking on a large number of Muslim votes in the constituency, apart from Dalit votes, in the backdrop of the Bhima-Koregaon violence early last year. However, Vanchit Bahujan Aghadi’s (VBA) candidate Sanjay Bhosale could eat into Congress voters, as turnout was good in Dalit pockets, especially in Chembur.

While the turnout was poor in the morning in southern parts of the constituency, from Parel to Trombay and Mahim to Mahul, it improved as the day progressed. A large number of voters came out to vote in the evening after the heat receded.

Several spent over an hour in long queues at the polling booth. Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) chief Raj Thackeray and his family spent more than an hour in queue at the polling booth located at Balmohan Vidyalaya in Dadar to cast their votes.

In the north part of the constituency, long queues were seen at several booths since morning. At areas like Trombay, Cheetah Camp, Ghatala, Mahul and Vashi Naka a large number of voters exercised their franchise in the later part of the day.

However, goof-ups like missing names from the voter’s list upset many. “Ahead of my name my mother’s photo was there in the voter’s list. When I went to cast my vote, my name wasn’t there in our regular booth. Finally, I found it in another list,” said Ramesh Dimala, 71, a resident of Collector Colony.

Tagaram Prajapati, a 46-year-old resident of Siddharth Colony, went to vote along with his wife, but did not find their names in the list, though the Election Commission’s app showed them to be in the list.

Zebunnisa Bhatti, a resident of Panjrapole, Chembur said her name was missing from the list, though she had voted in the 2014 polls.

According to political party workers, as the police did not allow the voters to carry mobile phones inside the booth, many voters went back and never returned to vote. At Cheetah Camp near Mankhurd, social workers were using the Noor Masjid in the area to appeal to voters to leave their phones at home.

“The police personnel at the entrance of the polling stations warned the voters not to carry phones. Many had to return home to keep their phones back at home. I think many of them would not have returned. To avoid the inconvenience we arranged to announce it from the masjid,” said Mansoor Ali, a social worker from Cheetah Camp, Chembur.

In the 2014 election, Shewale had secured 49.57% of the votes, while the Congress candidate got 31.59% of the votes. The candidate put up by MNS had got 9.51% of the votes.

First Published: Apr 30, 2019 06:51 IST

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