Congress MP Gurudas Kamat, a former union minister of state, will contest from the North-West parliamentary constituency this time too. In the 2009 election, he defeated Shiv Sena's Gajanan Kirtikar by over 38,000 votes. Kamat was a newcomer to the constituency then, and had been nominated at the last minute, but managed to sail through, with a little help from the MNS, of course. The Maharashtra Navnirman Sena's Shalini Thackeray secured as many as 1.23 lakh votes. The Congress also had to contend with Samajwadi Party candidate, Abu Azmi, who polled 84,000 votes.
But not many in the constituency are happy with the high profile MP. Their grouse is that he is not accessible. "I have not seen him, though I hear and read about him in newspapers. Though he has been active in some sports and social events, I haven't heard about him undertaking any concrete works. The constituency has a large number of slums like Bhagatsingh Nagar in Goregaon (W), but the SRA scheme has not been implemented, and the slum areas lack water. The right to education has also not been implemented in the constituency," said Sandeep Desai, a social activist.
Shiv Sena's Gajanan Kirtikar, who took on Kamat the last time too, said: "Kamat came from Chembur. We had told people then that he would do the disappearing act once elected. He took an office on DN Road, Andheri, and initially used to meet people on Saturdays and Sundays. But later stopped this exercise completely. People here have a lot of issues, especially with the railways. They have been demanding that long-distance trains stop at Andheri. In Jogeshwari, due to lack of a foot over-bridge, as many as 22 accidents took place on one particular track in the last one year. Kamat also did nothing about the post office in Jogeshwari being shifted to Goregaon. Development on Versova-Koliwada stretch has been stopped because of the problem of CRZ regulations despite the BMC granting extra FSI. The MP has not been able to get areas with forest tag, where people have built houses, de-notified."
Jogeshwari MLA Ravindra Waikar of Shiv Sena says: "In the last five years, I have seen the MP only once, in the Sahyadri government guest house in Malabar Hill. What initiative has he taken to avoid overcrowding in trains? There is an urgent need for an east-west bridge near Jogeshwari station. I ensured the BMC provided money, but there was no progress on this front."
"The Oshwaiara station is yet to start functioning; the extension of Harbour Line trains is yet to take place; the redevelopment of several MHADA colonies is pending. All this when he has been a Union minister," said Sena MLA Subhash Desai.
Kamat supporters, however, disagree. Changez Multani, an independent corporator, says: "I have to admit that Kamat has done excellent work in this constituency and maintains good relation with the people here."
Leader of opposition in BMC, Devendra Amberkar (Congress), stoutly defended Kamat. "Kamat has worked hard for the development of not only his constituency, but also the whole of Mumbai. He has been in touch with people of all strata and has resolved their problems," said Amberkar. "Kamat even got the approval for the jetty used by fishermen in Versova-Koliwada," Amberkar added.
According to Zakir Ahmed, a Congress activist, Kamat has worked hard to realise the metro railway project; the new road connecting the Jogeshwari-Vikhroli Link Road; Coastal Road, Eastern Freeway, elevated rail corridor, deemed conveyance for housing societies, etc. He also got the approval for the Middle Vaitarna water project.
Works undertaken by Kamat in his constituency (from his website): Oshiwara station (to be commissioned as soon as BMC completes the road over-bridge). Model stations: Kamat has been persuading the ministry of railways to modernize stations. In his earlier term, he got Ghatkopar included in the list; this time, Andheri from his new constituency, has been picked for modernization. Aquarium at Versova: He has demanded that an aquarium of international standard be set up in the Fisheries Directorate in Versova and it has been accepted by Union agriculture minister Sharad Pawar.
When dna a tried to contact the MP through a text messages, there was no response.