Aaditya may contest from Worli: Local leaders excitedUpdated: Sep 27, 2019 23:53 IST
Amid speculation that Shiv Sena leader Aaditya Thackeray will foray into politics from the Worli Assembly constituency, becoming the first Thackeray to contest an election, Shiv Sainiks from the area have started campaigning with increased enthusiasm. Meanwhile, Sena’s competition, likely to be the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and Bahujan Republican Socialist Party (BRSP), are gearing up to challenge the party’s popularity in the region.
Deepak Bagwe, who heads one of the Shiv Sena’s five shakhas in the Worli Assembly constituency, said, “We are all very excited, but we are waiting for the official announcement.”
Kishori Pednekar, Sena corporator from Worli, said, “We are a 100% sure that Aaditya Thackeray will contest from Worli. It will bring the area in limelight across the country. The Sena’s strength in the area cannot be challenged, but that does not mean we are not preparing for the elections.”
The Worli assembly constituency is a mix of working, middle-class families, new and upcoming posh high-rises, old BDD chawls awaiting redevelopment, and an area near the sea inhabited by the Koli community, the original inhabitants of Mumbai. It covers five BMC wards, all of which have Sena corporators.
The current member of legislative assembly (MLA) from Worli, Sunil Shinde, is also a Shiv Sainik. Shinde won the last Assembly elections, defeating sitting NCP MLA Sachin Ahir by 23,021 votes. In July, Ahir, who had secured 37,613 votes in 2014, joined the Shiv Sena.
Bhalchandra Mestry, deputy head of another shakha in Worli, said, “We all want Aaditya Thackeray to contest the elections. On the other hand, our present MLA Sunil Shinde’s popularity is undeniable. Sachin Ahir is also popular in the area, and now he is on the Sena’s side. There is no doubt the Sena will win.”
Meanwhile, NCP workers are gearing up for the face-off. Kiran Pawaskar, NCP MLC and former Sena leader who was being considered as a candidate from Worli, said, “I do not believe I am the right candidate to contest from there. I have not done much work in the area. I have suggested another name.”
The NCP is also reeling under the dwindling party strength in Worli, after Ahir’s defection. Ravi Mayekar, an NCP leader from Worli, who is handling the Assembly elections from the constituency and is also the name suggested by Pawaskar, said, “Ahir has only 14-15 people left with him. We still have a lot of people on the field. Four-five people have come forward for a ticket. Everyone is very excited to work this time, and reclaim the Worli seat.”
The area also has a significant Dalit population living in large pockets in the east. Eyeing these votes, the BRSP has decided to field Suresh Mane, the founder president of the party. “Worli has several issues such as the Koli community being sidelined due to the coastal road and redevelopment of BDD chawls. People don’t believe the Sena can represent them,” he said.
Jivba Kesarkar, who heads the Sena Shakha where the Dalit dominated population of Worli falls, said, “Why should this be daunting for the Sena? We represent the Dalit community also. Moreover, the Thackeray surname carries so much weight.”
In preparation for Thackeray’s debut, Kesarkar said all shakha pramukhs are working hard. “Aaditya Thackeray is very approachable and has begun guiding us on social media.”
First Published: Sep 27, 2019 23:53 IST