From quaint bungalows on Malabar hill to working class settlements in 'Girangaon' (textile belt) areas like Lalbag and middle-class localities like Girgaum, the South Mumbai Lok Sabha constituency has a huge geographical and socio-economic span and presents a study in contrast.
The constituency elected union minister of state for IT and communications Milind Deora for the second time in 2009, in a three-cornered fight with Bala Nandgaonkar (MNS) and Mohan Rawle (Shiv Sena).
Scratch the surface and problems in this high-profile constituency come tumbling out—lack of adequate water supply, parking, traffic, illegal hawkers, contaminated water supply due to intermingling of water and drainage lines and redevelopment of old and dilapidated buildings.
His opponents allege that despite his high-profile image and proximity to Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi, Deora is cut off from the common voter.
Deora, who made ripples after opposing the ordinance to protect convicted lawmakers, and was active in supporting the Campa Cola residents, said, "This is a part of politics... I am more accessible than any other union minister."
Sena MLC Arvind Sawant charged that the issue of repairs and reconstruction of dilapidated buildings, many of which collapse during the monsoons, was still hanging fire. The constituency accounts for a majority of old and crumbling buildings, including cessed ones, in the island city.
He listed problems like the noise pollution, lack of open spaces and the under construction skywalk at Nana Chowk as some problems faced by the residents.
Mill workers union leaders accused Deora of letting down workers from erstwhile textile mills who were seeking houses from the government.
Accusing Deora of not paying attention to his community, Koli leader Damodar Tandel said the fisherfolk face problems like filth, lack of water and drainage, problems in re-development and non-development of fishing jetties.
Praises and Deora's defence
According to Sunil Narsale, president of the South Mumbai Congress the MP helped conduct many job fairs and eye camps apart from distributing computers to nearly 150 schools. Narsale said Deora had used his entire MP fund in the constituency.
Vijay Advani of the 1st Pasta Lane residents association in Colaba said that Deora was active and visible in the area but added that problems like parking, traffic and illegal hawkers needed to be resolved.
The 37-year-old MP says he is proud the Bhendi Bazar cluster development project. He said he had also pushed for the Eastern Freeway project. Deora said the second phase of the Rs80-crore Marine Drive makeover project would start soon.
"I still believe that connectivity from Mumbai city to the hinterlands is very important. This will increase the supply of land, reduce real estate prices and make housing affordable," said Deora.
Deora claimed credit for the lighthouse tourism policy, guidelines to regulate cell tower radiations and the state's decision to set up a housing regulator.