How Gujaratis helped Manoj Kotak win in Mumbai’s North East constituency
It is not only the expected Gujarati voters who paved the way for BJP’s Manoj Kotak’s entry into the Parliament from the Mumbai North East constituency, but also traditional Shiv Sena voters.
Of the six Assembly constituencies, Kotak got a lead in five, which includes the Gujarati-dominated areas of Mulund and Ghatkopar, along with Maharashtrian voters from Bhandup and Vikhroli.
In the Gujarati-dominated Mulund, where Kotak has been a corporator for the past decade, he got 1,27,847 votes as compared to Patil, who got only 40,484 votes. And in the Marathi-dominated areas of Bhandup and Vikhroli, Kotak secured a comfortable lead. An NCP functionary from Bhandup said, “Surprisingly, Kotak got a lead in Bhandup, which we expected will favour bhau (Patil).” Patil has been a former MLA from Bhandup. Both the candidates were trying to woo Marathi voters, who have the largest vote share in Mumbai North East.
There were doubts raised that traditional Sena voters will not vote for Kotak after the BJP-Sena formed an alliance before the Lok Sabha elections. Many voters were said to be upset over the alliance as Shiv Sena had constantly criticised its ally since 2014.
The Sainiks had also earlier refused to work if BJP had given the ticket to Kirit Somaiya. However, they seemed to have worked to ensure Kotak’s win. Post his victory, Kotak said, “It is the combined effort of the Sena, BJP and RPI workers that ensured our comfortable victory.”
The Ghatkopar East and West segments together polled 1,80,272 votes for Kotak as compared to Patil, who got 74,407 votes.
Of the six areas, Patil got a lead of 42,062 votes against Kotak only in the Muslim-dominated Mankhurd-Shivaji Nagar constituency. However, the Congress-NCP failed to channelise as it recorded the lowest voter turnout in the constituency. It is also one of the least developed areas in entire Mumbai. What affected Congress-NCP chances more was the Vanchit Bahujan Aghadi (VBA) securing 68,000 votes. Before the elections, HT had reported that a lot of Dalits in the areas of Ramabai Nagar and Kannamwar Nagar were favouring VBA’s Niharika Khondalay over BJP and Congress combines.