Candidates switch to two-wheelers from luxury cars to tackle traffic jams and narrow bylanes of wards for reaching maximum voters
Congress candidate Ashraf Azami in Kurla. Pics/Datta Kumbhar
While BMC elections are just over a week away, candidates who used to campaign from their SUVs and luxury cars now seem to have realised the hardship commuters faced because of the traffic. And, to that end, they have ditched the four-wheelers and shifted to two-wheelers for campaigning, saying that it also helps them save time and cover a larger area of the ward by being able to enter narrow lanes and navigate traffic better.
Samajwadi Party candidate Rais Shaikh in Madanpura
mid-day spoke to a few of these candidates, one of them being MNS’s Dinesh Salvi from ward 31, who was particularly known for his love of SUVs. In a bid to reach out to all in his ward, including those in Ekta Nagar, Sanjay Nagar, Lalji Pada, Ekta Nagar and Ganesh Nagar, replete with narrow arterial roads and choked lanes, he has taken to a bike, besides going on foot as well at times.
Shiv Sena candidate Rajesh Kadam in Borivli. Pics/Nimesh Dave
Just before the election, Salvi bought a Royal Enfield, keeping the two-wheeler’s number the same as that of his SUV so that people know it’s him. “The earlier corporator has hardly done any work in our area, and a large portion of the ward has narrow lanes, besides other problems. To reach as many people as possible, I have started campaigning on my new bike; saves time and easier to manoeuvre through traffic jams,” he said.
MNS candidate Dinesh Salvi in Kandivli
Then there’s the Shiv Sena candidate from ward 13 (Borivli East), Rajesh Kadam, also a lover of high-end SUVs and now getting around on a two-wheeler. His ward includes Raidongri, Sukarwadi, Daulat Nagar, Chinchpada, Discovery and Dabu Patil Nagar, where ongoing Metro work have made the lanes tougher to get through for big vehicles.
Kadam told mid-day, “I travel in SUVs for my daily work; but when I was to start campaigning in my area, I realised that that’s not a viable option, considering the peak-hour traffic and pathetic condition of roads. Hence, bike, padyatra and door-to-door campaigning it is.”
Locals in the area have already been facing problems due to all this since long, and work on the Dahisar-Andheri Metro has added to it.
“I plan to solve the issues of traffic and bad condition of roads in my area on a priority basis after getting elected. People here have suffered enough already,” he added.
Congress candidate from ward 165 (Kurla [Ambika Nagar and Bhartiya Nagar]) Ashraf Azmi too has been biking around to dodge jams and congested lanes to reach the voters. The ward includes Jai Ambika Nagar, Bharatiya Nagar and Halavpool area, all having a significant slum population.
“It’s hard to take four-wheelers inside narrow bylanes where people can’t even walk properly. Taking a car then wastes time. Bikes are more helpful and practical,” said Azami.
“I don’t know how to ride a bike, so I take the help of my supporters - I ride pillion. For too narrow lanes in the slum pockets, I prefer going door to door and interacting with the residents.”
Samajwadi Party corporator Rais Shaikh, who is contesting from one of the city’s oldest areas, Madanpura in Mumbai Central, understands the pain of massive traffic jams and narrow lanes, where walking is also a challenge, having gone through the same. After winning from Govandi in 2012, he shifted to ward 211 (Madanpura, Nagpada), and is now confident of getting elected from here.
With most of the structures over five to six decades old and roads not being wide, Shaikh’s preferred ways of getting about are bikes and on foot for door-to-door work.
“While the beauty of Madanpura lies in its old structures, in the last several years, there has been no considerable development in the area, which has led to the collapse of basic infrastructure and longer traffic jams. Bikes are handier in such situations,” he said.
“If I get elected, I will tackle the traffic issue on priority. I will try to pursue systematic development of the area so that the jams ease out.”