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Wednesday, Nov 13, 2019

Maharashtra polls: Will Congress MLA be third-time lucky?

mumbai Updated: Oct 18, 2019 01:40 IST
Kailash Korde
Kailash Korde
Hindustantimes
         

The Malad West constituency will see a direct fight between the Congress and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

In the 2014 Assembly elections, when MLA Aslam Shaikh was elected for the second time, it became the only constituency in the western suburbs to withstand the Modi wave. This time, there are 11 candidates contesting for the seat, with BJP fielding former Congressman Rameshsingh Thakur against Shaikh.

Prior to Shaikh’s re-nomination, there were speculations that he would ditch the Congress to join Shiv Sena or BJP but this did not happen. Two-term MLA from Malad West, Shaikh has been a coporator from Malvani. For him, it is a contest between an “insider and an outsider.”

“This is a contest between an insider and an outsider. I know every lane, building and society [in the constituency], while the outsider had not shown his face for the past 10 years. People of Malad West know this well,” said Shaikh. He said they will vote for him because of development work over the past five years.

Meanwhile, Thakur is a former Congress MLA from Kandivali East who joined the BJP in 2017. He said he is contesting the election as people are still deprived of basic amenities like power supply, water and drainage. “I am aware of the issues faced by the people. They also know me and my work very well,” said Thakur.

Malad West has eight corporators – four from Congress, three from BJP and one from Shiv Sena. One of the largest constituencies, it comprises areas such as Madh Island, Malvani, Evershine Nagar, Marve, Adarsh Nagar and the collector colonies. It is dominated by a Muslim population, concentrated at Azmi Nagar, Ambuj Nagar, Old Collector Colony, New Collector Colony and Malvani. This is followed by Maharashtrian voters, scattered across the constituency. Areas like Malad, Marve and Erangal have sizeable fisherfolk communities.

Areas like Patel Wadi and Shankarwadi Rathodi also have a significant number of North Indians, while Evershine Nagar, Nutan Nagar and Adarsh Nagar have Gujarati and Rajasthani population. There is also a considerable number of Christian voters in the constituency.

A major part of the constituency comes under the no-development zone. Some of the major issues facing the constituency are the pending revamp of gaothans (village-like settlements in Aksa, Earangal, Patwadi, Bhati Wadi, Daravali and Madh), slum rehabilitation, widening of roads, water supply, encroachments and illegal hutments.

The Malad-Marve Road, which sees major traffic snarls, also adds to road congestion the constituency. Work on the Versova-Madh bridge, expected to provide relief to commuters, has been pending for years. “The proposed bridge will reduce the two-and-half journey between the two areas to five minutes. We wonder why it has not yet been built,” said RS Bhandari, a Madh resident.