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Thursday, Nov 14, 2019

Maha polls: Bandra East, a prestige battle for Shiv Sena

mumbai Updated: Oct 14, 2019 00:39 IST
Mehul R Thakkar
Mehul R Thakkar

The battle in Bandra East is a matter of prestige for the Shiv Sena, as the constituency houses Matoshree, the house of the Thackerays. While the party fielded mayor Vishwanath Mahadeshwar, sitting Sena MLA Trupti Sawant has turned into a rebel, joining the competition against the Sena with former minister Baba Siddiqui’s son Zeeshan.

The constituency consists of Bandra East, Khar East, Kalanagar (which houses Thackeray residence) and part of Bandra-Kurla Complex.

From 1999 to 2009, the seat was with the Congress. Since 2009, the Shiv Sena won it. In 2015, sitting Sena MLA Bala Sawant passed away, after which the party fielded his wife, Trupti.

The Congress fielded former chief minister Narayan Rane, who vowed to wrest the seat from the Sena, but Trupti Sawant defeated him.

This time, Matoshree has chosen 59-year-old Vishwanath Mahadeshwar, considered a favourite of the Sena leadership. A Sena leader said, “Mahadeshwar has served as corporator for 15 years. There were murmurs that Sawant was not in touch with local workers for four years. Mahadeshwar’s preparation started much earlier, when he started to concentrate on works by the BMC around Bandra East.”

But things are not smooth. While Sawant is contesting as an independent, Siddique is trying to put together a combination of minority, Dalit and traditional Congress voters.

Mahadeshwar, meanwhile, is known to court controversies. Four months ago, his alleged supporters hit a civic engineer over incomplete storm water drain work in Kalanagar.

He had also refused to remove the red beacon from his official vehicle, despite the Centre’s curbs.

He was also accused of illegal occupying a house and misbehaving with a woman who was complaining about his constituency. Mahadeshwar has denied the allegations.

Among the other players are Maharashtra Navnirman Sena’s (MNS) Akhil Chitre, All India Majlis-E-Ittehadul Muslimeen’s (AIMIM) Mohammed Qureshi and Vanchit Bahujan Aghadi’s Javed Shaikh. Sawant and Chitre can damage Mahadeshwar’s chances, while

Qureshi and Shaikh can impact the number of votes Siddique gets.

In 2014, when there was no alliance, the Shiv Sena managed to get around 41,000 votes, BJP 25,000, AIMIM 23,000 votes, followed by Congress and NCP getting 12,000 and 9,000 votes, respectively.

Rashmi Gawde, a resident of Bandra East, said, “The major problem is encroachment of footpaths by commercial establishments. There is water logging during the rains. Also, the slum cover has increased, while the pace of redevelopment is slow.”

Zeeshan Siddique from Congress, one of the youngest candidates, said, “The focus of my campaign is development.” Chitre said, “The constituency houses Matoshree. The mayor has done nothing for the city. They should have someone from the Thackeray family contest the elections from Bandra East, if they are so sure about their work.”

Mahadeshwar seems confident. “I have been a corporator from the area for 15 years and my wife has been for another five years. People know my work, and voters here have a lot of hope from me and are strongly in support of Shiv Sena. Redevelopment of government colony, MHADA colony and ensuring stuck redevelopment projects of slums are pushed and completed will be my priorities.”