The 10 Lok Sabha constituencies of Mumbai and Thane will witness a fierce contest between the Congress-NCP and Shiv Sena-BJP alliances today. The electoral battle marks the third and final phase of polling in Maharashtra, with two more phases to go nationally.
In Mumbai, a city known for low voter turnout, the big question is: will enough people brave a sweltering summer day and queue up to vote?
Though the battle lines seem to be drawn between the two alliances, the results will be anything but predictable. That is because parties like the MNS, BSP, and Samajwadi Party have queered the pitch. While the MNS may play spoilsport for the saffron alliance, the BSP and SP may mar the show for the secular one.
The results of this election will set the stage for the assembly polls in September, determining whether the two alliances remain intact.
Mumbai goes to the polls with the traumatic 26/11 terrorist attacks still fresh in the mind. Yet, there is no palpable excitement about the polls despite high-voltage campaigns by parties and pro-franchise drives by NGOs. “Urban centres have registered lower turnouts than rural areas,” state Congress poll campaign chief Vilasrao Deshmukh said. “I hope Mumbai will be different.”
None of the parties has the going easy. The Congress, which won five of Mumbai’s six seats in 2004, is on a slippery wicket. Part of its woe is that it cannot trust the NCP which has been flirting with the Sena and the third front.
The Shiv Sena lead by Uddhav Thackeray has to contend with his estranged cousin Raj’s MNS. As an MNS leader said, Raj’s party is not in the fray to win but to “establish” itself by aiming for 6% of the poll pie.
As for the BJP, it has to contend with the lack of cohesiveness in the saffron camp: while the party projects itself as cosmopolitan, its ally is exploiting the ‘sons of the soil’ theme.