Mumbai North: Cong's Sanjay Nirupam could face tough contest

In 2009, the Mumbai North Lok Sabha constituency saw Congress leader Sanjay Nirupam win by a slender 5,779 votes. Now, facing anti-incumbency, a popular local Bharatiya Janata Party leader and a Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) candidate in the race, Nirupam has a tough re-election campaign.

The Mumbai North Lok Sabha constituency, dominated by Gujaratis, North Indians and slums, comprises Dahisar, Borivali, Kandivali (East), Charkop and Malad (West) of suburban Mumbai.

Nirupam during the hunger strike. Kavitha Iyer/ Firstpost

Nirupam during his hunger strike against Reliance Energy. Firstpost

In 2009, Nirupam was the beneficiary of the anti-Congress votes being split evenly between the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) and the Bharatiya Janata PArty. While Nirupam polled 2,55,157, the BJP candidate Ram Naik, a former Union minister, polled 2,49,378 while MNS candidate Shirish Parkar won 1,47,502 votes.

This time, the constituency will see a triangular fight between Nirupam and the BJP candidate, two-time MLA Gopal Shetty and the AAP's Satish Jain, an alumnus of IIM Bangalore. The MNS has not fielded any candidate yet.

The BJP is focusing on development work done by its candidate MLA Gopal Shetty, while AAP is concentrating on the slum settlements, most of which are illegally constructed upon government land.

AAP candidate Satish Jain stayed with slum dwellers of Malvani in Malad (West) to better understand the problems and issues faced by them. “The issues faced by slum dwellers are different from middle and upper class. It was just an attempt to gain a better perspective and first hand understanding,” said Jain, an alumnus of IIM Bangalore, who quit his lucrative job to join politics full time.

He added that the issues of the slums have not been addressed for decades and people continue to live with poor civic amenities.

“We are trying to collate all the information to address and solve their problems. The decades of mismanagement and corruption is responsible for their plight. With political will, not only the slum dwellers, but all of us can improve our quality of lives,” he said adding that the issue of open spaces grabbed by the politicians will be on his campaign agenda.

Yogesh Sagar, a BJP MLA and an aide of Shetty, said that the sitting MP Nirupam has done no work in the constituency. "He takes credit for work such as constructing roads and toilets, which is done by local authorities," Sagar said.

He added that the issue of rail accidents at the region's railway stations should have been raised in Parliament. "Almost 3500 people are killed in railway accidents every year but the issue has not been raised in the parliament. So, our focus is on the development work and good governance during the campaigning," he said, adding that Nirupam has lowered the dignity of an MP and of the Parliament by making personal remarks against BJP leader Smriti Iraani.

"The people are wise and will vote for BJP this time and we will win by sizeable margin. Last time, the MNS split the votes of Shiv Sena-BJP which helped him in getting elected," Sagar said pointing that the MNS has not yet fielded the candidate and this could help the BJP.

Updated Date: Mar 30, 2014 12:05 PM

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