Lok Sabha elections 2019| Rath, aarti: It’s all about loving voters in constituency
With his best parliamentarian award pasted on the back of his rath, and amid rhythmic beats of Maharashtrian dhol, Arvind Sawant, Sena candidate from the Mumbai South constituency marches through the lanes of Worli’s BDD chawl.
The rally was one of the last planned by the Shiv Sena. However, nothing about the procession could indicate that Sawant’s campaign was approaching its tail-end. A mass of saffron is the only thing that caught any on-looker’s eye.
On the same day, Congress candidate Milind Deora’s campaign had a similar story to tell. Driving atop his rath through Kalachowki’s lanes, with Tricolour flags in the air in another Marathi-dominated area, Deora made the bid to woo the Marathi heartland of the city.
Bhagyashree Surve, an onlooker, said, “I have not thought about voting for the Congress, but I have heard Deora speak in a video, and I liked his passion. He was talking about women equality, and it appealed to me. Through this rally, it is the first time I am seeing him in person, so I will take some time to decide who to vote for.”
Sawant, raised his voice and the slogans of Vote for Sena, saying: “There is no other response needed for my opponent than the amount of affection I get from these people. Even in this sweltering heat, I didn’t have to ask anyone to accompany me. They are all here to show their support.”
A few kilometres away, Deora descended from his rath occasionally to oblige groups of women with an aarti, stopping to let them reach is forehead, and plaster a tikka on his forehead. Deora said, “This is a Marathi area, and a lot of people are Sena’s supporters. But even in such areas, over the past few rallies, I have got very good response.”
As Sawant’s rally approaches Ambedkar Bhavan near BDD Chawls, Union Minister Ramdas Athavale who represents Sena’s ally Republican Party of India (A), emerged from the rath and stepped onto the street, greeting voters.
Taking hold of the microphone, Athavale urged voters to come out in large numbers and vote for Sawant.
Every resident stood at the door of his house, on the footpath, or in front of a temporarily unattended shop, eager to catch a glimpse of the leader. This is a sight quite expected in this area, dominated by Marathi voters, and a Sena stronghold for many years now.
Commenting on Sawant’s popularity in this belt, Ramesh Upadhyay, an on-looker, said, “He has a very good hold over the voters here. But there are so many issues in this area, such as redevelopment of these buildings. The problem is those who do not want the BJP to return to power are not going to vote for Sawant. The Sena made a mistake tying up with BJP.”