Home to the country's swish set, South Mumbai is one among the most elite constituencies in the country. But at the brass-tacks, the issues here are centered around brick and mortar problems like dilapidated buildings, water woes, lack of sanitation and open spaces, and housing.
Union minister of state Milind Deora, seeking a hat-trick win here, is locked in a quadrangular fight with Bala Nandgaonkar (MNS), Arvind Sawant (Shiv Sena) and Sanyal (AAP). There are also other candidates around like CPI's Prakash Reddy, BSP's Abus Salam Qasmi, 'spiderman' Gaurav Sharma and Sayed Nooruddin Aftab of Rashtriya Ulema Council. In 2009, the voter turnout here was around 43%.
The constituency covers areas like Muslim-dominated Bhendi Bazar, Marathi stronghold of Girgaum, elite areas like Malabar Hill and Cumballa Hill and working-class textile mill districts like Parel.
In 2009, Milind trounced sitting Sena MP Mohan Rawale and Nandgaonkar. The 5-term MP trailed MNS in all the six assembly constituencies in the segment.
Though the dice seems loaded in favour of Milind, factors like Marathi votes being split between Sena and MNS, anti-incumbency factor, presence of independents and projection of Narendra Modi as BJP's prime ministerial nominee, which may influence Gujarati, Marwadi and Jain voters, could come into play.
However, BJP leaders admit that non-Maharashtrian voters may be reluctant to support the Sena in the former Maharashtrian stronghold, which has undergone a demographic shift.
Sanyal, who polled just 10,000 votes in 2009, may draw some Muslim and minority votes due to AAP's relentless posturing against Modi.
"The infrastructure in this area is poor and there are few open spaces," said Theresa Pinto of Fort Area Citizens Forum, a sentiment echoed by many in the constituency.
The Sena accused Milind of being inaccessible. Its South Mumbai chief Pandurang Sakpal said: "We are focusing on inflation, crimes against women, corruption and the poor law and order situation."
"Slums are increasing and dilapidated buildings have not yet been re-developed," said MNS' Arvind Gawade, adding that water and sanitation facilities in the area that had a huge floating population was too poor.
A Gujarati shopkeeper in Nana Chowk area, Ramjibhai Shah, said: "Modi coming to power is a foregone conclusion," and indicated that Sena may benefit from the 'Modi factor'.
Congress supporters are, however, unfazed. According to them, Milind's connect with the youth, tactical and strategic voting by Muslims and division of votes between Sena and MNS may help them sail through. "The new development control rules will boost cluster redevelopment of old buildings," said Deora supporter and Mumbadevi MLA Amin Patel, who credited the Congress candidate with pushing the policy, adding that setting up of a housing regulator would help prevent cheating of innocent home buyers.
CPI's Prakash Reddy, son of veteran communist leaders GL and Tara Reddy, has been campaigning on issues like pro-builder government policies, need for affordable housing and use of black money in real estate industry. CPI, which is contesting here after a gap of 34 years, had a strong base in erstwhile South-Central Mumbai, which saw legendary SA Dange and later his daughter, Roza Deshpande, being elected to Parliament.
Candidate Party Worli – Shivadi – Byculla – Malabar Hill – Mumbadevi – Colaba – Total
1 Milind Deora Congress 39284 27235 50177 53357 54186 48167 272411
2 Mohan Rawale Shiv Sena 30751 37454 14855 30689 12511 19848 146118
3 Mohammad Ali Abubakar Shaikh BSP 5786 3220 8127 1284 10140 5240 33799
4 Bala Nandgaonkar MNS 38089 48738 26301 20043 10135 16415 159729
5 Meera Sanyal Independent 873 386 429 5060 370 3036 10157
Mumbai South: SK Patil (Cong), George Fernandes (SSP), KN Narula Shivnarayan (Cong), Ratansingh Rajda (BLD and BJP), Murli Deora (Cong), Jaywantiben Mehta (BJP).
Mumbai South-Central: Jayshri Raiji (Cong), SA Dange (CPI), Vithal Gandhi (Cong), Abdul Kader Salebhoy (Cong), BC Kamble (BLD), RR Bhole (Cong), Roza Deshpande (CPI), Datta Samant (Ind), Vamanrao Mahadik (Shiv Sena), Mohan Rawle (Shiv Sena).
Repairs and reconstruction of old buildings, slums rehabilitation, poor water supply, housing for mill workers, pending infrastructure projects like Peddar Road flyover, inadequate parking space, traffic woes, illegal hawking on lanes and footpaths, intermingling of water and drainage lines, air pollution caused by gold units in areas like Bhuleshwar, and redevelopment of buildings being affected by CRZ.