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Mumbai South Central seat: MNS may dent Congress, Shiv Sena's prospects

Sunday, 13 April 2014 - 12:09pm IST | Agency: PTI

The South Central Mumbai constituency is likely to see the Raj Thackeray-led Maharashtra Navnirman Sena playing a crucial role when it goes to polls on April 24 amid a three-cornered contest.

The Congress' poll victory in the South Central Mumbai in 2009 general elections came as a huge setback for the Shiv Sena, which dominated the constituency close to a decade.

There are six Assembly segments in the Mumbai South-Central LS constituency - comprising Anushakti Nagar from Mumbai suburban district, Chembur, Dharavi, Sion Koliwada, Wadala and Mahim.

Congress' Eknath Gaikwad trounced Sena's Suresh Gambhir by over 75,500 votes, whereas MNS' Shweta Parulkar stood third in the 2009 polls.

Gaikwad's daughter Varsha Gaikwad is an MLA from Dharavi Assembly seat.

This time, however, Gaikwad (74) is facing the heat from the locals for not giving more emphasis on carrying out developmental works.

He is likely face a tough contest from young blood in the form of Sena's Rahul Shewale, who until recently was a standing committee chairman in the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC), and MNS nominee Aditya Shirodkar.

However, dismissing any challenge from other parties, Gaikwad said, "It is not a challenge for me. At one point in time, it (the constituency) was the bastion of the Shiv Sena.

Our fight is on ideological grounds. My focus will be on to make Mumbai slum-free and long-pending issue of Dharavi re-development project."

Claiming that he is the only Member of Parliament from the city who has 98 per cent attendance in the Lok Sabha, Gaikwad said that he is accessible to the people any time.

"I am always available for the people in my constituency. Also, there is disappointment against Shewale," he said. 

Shewale has the advantage of the entire saffron brigade of Shiv Sena-BJP and RPI intensively campaigning to make him victorious.

"He (Gaikwad) is there since last 30-40 years, but has failed to address the issues of the locals including those from the Dalit community, while I have managed to get works done through the BMC in capacity of the standing committee chairman," Shewale said.

Notably, the Uddhav Thackeray-led Sena, which emerged victorious in the 2012 BMC with the support of allies BJP and RPI, had to face a humiliating defeat in this particular constituency at the hands of the Raj Thackeray-led outfit.

The defeat was so terrible for the 47-year old party that they could not protect their fortress - Dadar-Mahim - from arch-rival MNS, which was founded in 2006.

The MNS had won all the seven BMC seats in Dadar-Mahim areas, denting Sena's Marathi vote-bank, which also reflected poorly on Sena veteran Manohar Joshi.

The Sena was left with their heads down in shame, from the place where their late supremo Bal Thackeray had once started his political career.

Political observers feel that the going would not be a cakewalk for any of the three candidates and a fierce battle is expected.

The Aam Aadmi Party has also fielded its candidate Sundar Balakrishnan, but he is unlikely to have much impact on the vote share of Sena and MNS which have their solid base there.

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