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Lok Sabha elections 2019- Poonam vs Priya: May be too close to call in North Central Mumbai

Vile Parle, which has a mix of Maharashtrian and Gujarati population, is highly influenced by the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS) ideology and is a major cultural hub.

lok sabha elections Updated: Apr 30, 2019 06:57 IST
Naresh Kamath
Naresh Kamath
Hindustan Times, Mumbai
vile parle,rashtriya swayamsevak sangh,poonam mahajan
A woman at a polling booth in Sangharsh Nagar at Chandivli on Monday.(Satyabrata Tripathy/HT Photo)

With a turnout of 52.84%, Mumbai North Central constituency may see a close contest between Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) candidate and sitting MP Poonam Mahajan and Congress’s Priya Dutt. The turnout in 2014 was 48.67%.

This may not be good news for Dutt, who is seeking to reclaim the seat she represented twice in the Lok Sabha, before being defeated the last time.

The BJP displayed better election management, as it succeeded in bringing its supporters to the booths in its major bastion, Vile Parle (59.92%), where it succeeded in getting a lead of a staggering 78,947 votes in 2014. Vile Parle contributed 41% to the winning margin of 1,88,889 votes, and the rest 59% was divided among the rest five constituencies.

Vile Parle, which has a mix of Maharashtrian and Gujarati population, is highly influenced by the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS) ideology and is a major cultural hub. Vile Parle legislator Parag Alavani said: “Poonam Mahajan will win with a resounding margin again and Vile Parle will play a major role.”

Chandivli Assembly segment, which recorded a similar voting percentage of 59.92%, had given Mahajan a lead of 32,739 votes the last time. Although the Congress holds the Assembly seat, its candidate, Naseem Khan, won as his BJP competitor Sitaram Tiwari’s nomination was rejected owing to errors in his nomination form. “We still have major support in Chandivli,” said Alavani.

This constituency is dominated by Maharashtrians (34%), followed by Muslims (25%), north Indians (17%) and Gujarati/Rajasthani (11%). The Congress was banking on the support of Muslims along with North Indians. It is thought that even the Maharashtrian vote may split, thanks to the campaign by MNS chief Raj Thackeray against the Sena-BJP combine.

However, areas like Bandra (East), Bandra (West) and Kalina, where the Congress has a good influence recorded less turnout with 50.01 %, 51.02 % and 49.70%, respectively. Incidentally, they were all represented by top Congress leaders namely Baba Siddique, Janardan Chandurkar and Kripashankar Singh. The Kurla Assembly seat, which is represented by the Shiv Sena, recorded a turnout of 51.31 %.

According to a Congress leader, the biggest issue facing the party was factionalism. “Many of the leaders did not campaign wholeheartedly for Dutt and there was a major funding issue. In addition, the whole campaign was badly executed by her campaign managers,” said the leader, who did not wish to come on record. He said Dutt focused on minority votebank and hardly concentrated on other sections.

First Published: Apr 30, 2019 06:57 IST

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