Sanjay Dina Patil, the NCP MP from Mumbai North-East is likely to have it tough in coming Lok Sabha polls. In 2009, he scarped through by thin margin of 2,933 against BJP's Kirit Somaiya.
The entry of AAP's Medha Patkar into the arena makes this a three-cornered fight, and this will only make Patil's more difficult as both Patkar and Patil are banking on the same vote bank, the slum dwellers.
"Sanjay Patil as an MP was a total failure. Seventy per cent of Mumbaikars are middle class, but they are being completely ignored by politicians. I am here to resolve people's issues, and hence am confident of victory," said Medha Patkar.
The common complaint against Patil is that he, as an MP, is not approachable. "Earlier, Patil was a public man. Now, it's difficult to see him. In 2005, as a candidate, Patil had promised several things. But none of them was fulfilled. As a corporator, I have tried many times to meet him, but I failed. If that is my case, what about the common man," asked a Congress corporator from Ghatkopar.
His constituency comprises Mulund, Ghatkopar (east and west), Vikroli, Kanjurmarg and Mankhurd. The majority of voters here are Gujaratis and Marathis. The minority voters are also crucial because the victory margin is likely to be thin. Last time, Patil swept the slum pockets of Mankhurd and Govandi, from where he got a lead of 45,000 votes.
"Patil has not done anything significant such as improving sanitation or pushed for slum redevelopment. He neglected his base, and that will cost him dearly," said Sandeep Joshi, an activist.
"However, his plus point is that his mother, Manorama Patil, is very approachable and gets along with people. And her presence has filled the vacuum left by Patil as an MP to a great extent," Joshi said.
At present, Kirit Somaiya hold the upper hand, but anything can happen in politics. "There is no guarantee. If Sharad Pawar attends a couple of meetings and NCP ministers set to work, the picture could change," observed Joshi.
Somaiya is 100 per cent sure he'll win. "If people starts comparing Somaiya's work as an MP—beautification of Eastern Expressway, development of Kanjurmarg station, etc—then Patil stands no chance," said a BJP activist.
Patil, however, refuted all allegations. "I am very approachable. As an MP, I have to travel, attend parliament sessions and do many other work. I cannot remain all the time in my constituency. But whenever there was an issue, I have addressed them. During the election period, opponents tend project a negative image," Patil told dna on Tuesday.
Somaiya is focusing on both national and provincial issues. "The metro passes through Ghatkopar and should be started immediately. The salt pan issue needs to be resolved and in the next five years, five lakh jobs will be created. At the national level, I will focus on strengthening Mumbai as a financial hub," said Somaiya.
Overtly, the fight looks to be between Patil and Somaiya, but Medha Patkar could upset their applecart. "Patkar has been getting good response in the slum pockets. If she manages to get a good chunk of middle class votes too, things could change. It is depends on MNS, whether they field a candidate or not.
Mumbai North-East (total electorate): 15,72,890.
Sanjay Dina Patil (NCP): 2,13,484.
Kirit Somaiya (BJP): 2,10,551.
Shishir Shinde (MNS): 1,95,113.
Ashok Chandra Pal Singh (BSP): 24.934.