SP’s incumbent MLA Abu Azmi had gone to file his nomination papers from Mankhurd-Shivaji Nagar, but before he could complete the process, he was called to meet the CM after Cong workers protested against their newest ally
The Congress-Samajwadi Party (SP) alliance began its first day on an uncertain note after protests were held outside the Congress office at Azad Maidan against the party’s latest ally.
Congress workers protesting against Samajwadi Party outside the former’s office at Azad Maidan yesterday. Pic/Bipin Kokate
As a result, chief minister Prithviraj Chavan allegedly stopped Samajwadi Party leader Abu Azmi, the incumbent MLA from Mankhurd-Shivaji Nagar, from filing his nomination papers and asked him to come and meet him.
Azmi had taken out a rally to file his nomination papers last morning. He entered the M ward office in Govandi, did some preliminary paperwork, but came out half an hour later and announced that he hadn’t filed his nomination papers. Azmi then hurriedly left the premises.
Protests over alliance?
According to sources, Azmi stopped midway because CM Prithviraj Chavan allegedly called him for a meeting, after protests were seen outside Congress’s office at Azad Maidan. Congress workers were raising their voice against their party’s decision to include SP as an ally. SP sources said Azmi met Chavan after leaving the ward office.
A day after the alliance was forged, it is believed the Congress is now demanding the seat held by Azmi, which has been a stronghold for the SP. This, however, has created unrest among SP workers, who deem it an unfair demand.
Asked why he left midway, Azmi told mid-day, “There were a few people before me who were filing their nominations. I had to rush for some important work and, hence, did not get time to file my nomination. However, on Saturday (today), I will be present at the ward office at 11 am to submit my nomination papers.”
Attempting to clear the air over any purported tension between the two allies over the constituency, Rais Shaikh, group leader of SP in the BMC, said, “This (assumption) is baseless. There is no fight between Samajwadi Party and Congress, and all these (allegations) are hypothetical.”
In the 2009 assembly elections, Azmi had declared assets worth Rs 126 crore, in a constituency that is seen as one of the poorest in the city. Mankhurd-Shivaji Nagar had seen 40.8% voting in the last assembly elections.
On Friday, four more candidates filed their nomination papers from the constituency, including Nashir Shaikh from Bahujan Samaj Party, Ranjeet Varma from Shetkari Kamgar party, Sumit Wangale from Mumbai Parivartan Manch and Rajendra Waghmare as an Independent candidate. Despite repeated attempts, state Congress spokesperson Sachin Sawant was unavailable for comment.