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Lok Sabha Election Phase 4: Mumbai's five seats set for tough fight; high-profile candidates include Urmila Matondkar, Poonam Mahajan, Priya Dutt

The fourth phase of the Lok Sabha election is scheduled for Monday and will see a close contest in Maharashtra's Mumbai, where several high-profile candidates face-off in the city's constituencies. Mumbai is divided into five constituencies: North, North-Central, North West, North East, South Central and South. Close to 96 lakh registered voters will exercise their franchise on Monday.

At least three constituencies are seeing contests between high-profile candidates, including members of the film fraternity Priya Dutt and Urmila Matondkar, who are both Congress candidates, and the BJP's Poonam Mahajan. Congress' Milind Deora, a former Union minister, is contesting from the Mumbai-South seat. He will be up against sitting MP, Shiv Sena's Arvind Sawant.

Here is a look at some of the profiles of the constituencies in Mumbai:

 Lok Sabha Election Phase 4: Mumbais five seats set for tough fight; high-profile candidates include Urmila Matondkar, Poonam Mahajan, Priya Dutt

File photo of Priya Dutt and Poonam Mahajan. PTI

Mumbai North-Central:

A swing in Marathi and Muslim votes could prove decisive in the Mumbai-North Central Lok Sabha constituency, where sitting Mahajan is squaring off against Dutt, who had lost in the 2014 election.

While Mahajan, the daughter of late BJP leader Pramod Mahajan, is banking on the work she "carried out" in the past five years, Dutt, the daughter of the late actor Sunil Dutt, says her fight is to "save democracy".

As per voter demographics, the constituency is dominated by Marathi-speaking residents, followed by Muslims, North Indians, Gujaratis, Marwaris, Christians and South Indians.

In the 2014 general election, Mahajan had defeated Dutt, the then sitting MP, by a margin of 1.86 lakh votes. Mahajan had polled 4,78,535 votes, while Dutt was restricted to 2,91,764 votes.

The constituency, with around 18 lakh voters, comprises the Assembly segments of Vile Parle, Chandivali, Kurla, Kalina, Bandra East and Bandra West.

According to political observers, a common complaint against Dutt is that she withdrew from the constituency after her 2014 defeat, as a result of which she is missing the connect with voters and Congress workers. Observers also feel that Dutt can upset Mahajan if she gets the voter arithmetic right in the constituency, which used to be a Congress stronghold.

"The Congress is weak in the Vile Parle and Bandra East segments. In 2014, Mahajan got a massive lead of over 70,000 votes in the Vile Parle segment. In Bandra East, Congress lacks a strong local-level leader," an observer said.

Mahajan told PTI that the BJP has made deep inroads in the constituency. Referring to the Mumbai civic body polls held in 2017, Mahajan claimed the BJP's vote share from 2014 has increased, leaving the Congress far behind.

Mahajan said she had spent her MPLAD fund on resolving the housing issues of local residents and for the construction of toilets. "A total of 1,428 toilets have been constructed in areas such as Bandra, Kurla and Chandivali," the MP said, adding that she had worked for redevelopment of 20,000 MHADA (Maharashtra Housing and Area Development Authority) colonies with houses measuring 580 square feet.

"Similarly, 80,000 families will be rehabilitated from the Mumbai airport land," she said. Mahajan said slum-dwellers occupying the airport land in Kurla and Kalina areas will be relocated elsewhere, while those living in Vakola and Vile Parle will be rehabilitated to 65 acres of redeveloped land.

Dutt, who had won the 2005 Lok Sabha bypoll from Mumbai North-West after her father's death and the 2009 election from Mumbai North-Central, said her fight is for those who believe in secularism and democracy.

"Everyone who is secular and believes in democracy has a responsibility to step forward and play an active role in saving it. I stand for the future of all children, including mine," she said.

Mumbai North:

The Mumbai North Lok Sabha seat was one where the Congress was reportedly unable to finalise a candidate to take on sitting MP Gopal Shetty, but now, the entry of actor Urmila Matondkar has presented a challenge to the BJP.

It is among the BJP's strongest seats in the state, and Shetty, a former corporator and multiple-time MLA, had defeated former Mumbai Congress chief Sanjay Nirupam in the 2014 general election by 4.46 lakh votes, among the widest margins in the country.

According to observers, the morale of Congress workers was down after Nirupam reportedly showed unwillingness to contest from the constituency this time.

They add that Matondkar has now ensured that the BJP has a fight on hand and the contest is no longer a cakewalk. While Mumbai North was among the largest Lok Sabha constituencies in the country, behind Outer Delhi and Thane, the delimitation exercise in 2008 shrunk it.

A rising population, housing, healthcare and transportation remain key issues, as is the lack of basic facilities in several Adivasi settlements in the Sanjay Gandhi National Park.

There are over 18 lakh voters, and the turnout in the 2014 Lok Sabha election was 53.07 percent. Speaking about her easy connect with the people, Matondkar said it came from the empathy and respect for those before whom she stands asking for votes.

Despite observers saying that the Maharashtrian vote will be decisive, Matondkar claimed she is not playing the "Marathi card".

Kalu Bundhela, a Congress leader from Mumbai North said the party is banking on the "excess votes" that went to the BJP in 2014 due to the Narendra Modi wave.

Shetty's supporters, meanwhile, point out his grassroots connect, and even rivals acknowledge his work in conserving open spaces and gardens in the Borivali area. Shetty said he was confident of his work, adding that electing actor Govinda, in the 2004 polls, was a "bad experience for the people".

He denied small traders, a staple of the BJP vote base, were upset with the implementation of the Goods and Services Tax, adding that he had ensured that people in his constituency got the benefits of Central schemes like the Ujjwala Yojana and Ayushman Bharat.

Mumbai South:

The Congress hopes to cash in on resentment among small enterprise owners, who, reports suggest, are still recovering from the twin "shocks" of demonetisation and GST, to win the Mumbai South Lok Sabha seat — home to the business district of Colaba and the famous bullion market, Zaveri Bazaar.

The party is also counting on the recent endorsement of its candidate and Mumbai unit president Milind Deora by Reliance Industries chairman Mukesh Ambani, a prominent South Mumbai resident, to win votes of the community.

According to experts, traditional markets for materials like bullion, gems and jewellery, clothes, stainless steel etc. are still feeling the "pinch" of demonetisation and "shoddy" implementation of the GST.

Deora is pitted against his rival from the 2014 general election, Arvind Sawant of Shiv Sena — a BJP ally. Sawant polled 3,74,609 votes in the last election, defeating Deora by a huge margin of 1,28,564. Sawant also became the first Shiv Sena MP to be elected from Mumbai South since 1952.

Sawant, whose critics claim he won last time because of the "Modi wave", said the polls this year are an ideological battle. "I am raising the issue of unity of the country and national security. Infrastructure upgrade, housing for the poor and redevelopment of textile mill land to generate employment were some of the key issues in my campaigning," Sawant said.

Mumbai North-East, North-West, South-Central:

In Mumbai North-East, the BJP's Manoj Kotak will contest against the NCP's former Union minister Sanjay Dina Patil. The electorate of 16,68,347 voters includes 9,23,011 men and 7,45,342 women.

In the North-West constituency, sitting Shiv Sena MP Gajanan C Kirtikar will be up against former Mumbai Congress president Sanjay Nirupam. The voters include 9,86,908 men and 7,88,520 women.

Meanwhile, in the Mumbai South-Central constituency, sitting Shiv Sena MP Rahul Shewale will face off against Congress's ex-MP Eknath Gaikwad.

With inputs from PTI

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Updated Date: Apr 28, 2019 15:26:58 IST