As the by-polls are around the corner, locals have mixed reactions to the candidates of various political parties and their work in the area
The demise of Shiv Sena MLA Prakash (Bala) Sawant, has led to the Bandra East Assembly constituency by-polls, which will be held on April 11. Bandra (East) is the constituency that houses Matoshree, the residence of late Shiv Sena chief Bal Thackeray. For the party, these polls are, therefore, an issue of prestige.
Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis campaigns for Shiv Sena’s Trupti Sawant in Bandra. Pic/Sayed Sameer Abedi
As these elections are less than a week away, the main political parties, including the All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM), are busy trying to plead with voters to elect their candidate to power. MIM’s candidate, Siraj Khan, fell a little short of the BJP candidate’s votes in the 2014 Assembly elections.
NCP president Sharad Pawar at a public meeting with Narayan Rane at Jai Ambe maidan in Bandra. Pic/Satyajit Desai
He is their candidate for the present election as well. Trying to take advantage of the sympathy wave, Shiv Sena has given the ticket to Trupti Sawant, the wife of the late MLA, while the Congress has given it to former chief minister Narayan Rane, for whom this election could be a make or break one.
“Problems hain, aap kya problems solve karoge kya? Sab problems pooch kar chale jate hain, magar koi problems suljhata nahi (We have problems, but will you solve them? Everyone comes and asks us about our problems, but no one acts to solve them).” This is how a voter, Shahrukh, reacted, when asked his view on the by-polls.
A resident of Behrampada, Mohammad, when asked about MIM’s pro-Muslim image, said, “Neta aur abhineta ki koi jati ya dharm nahi hota” (a leader and an actor do not have any caste or religion). Therefore, people should vote wisely by rising above religious and caste identities.”
Another local voter, Mohammad Hamid said that he had been part of the Shiv Sena from 1998 to 2011. Now he wanted to vote for someone else like MIM. Hamid recollected many memories of the past including those of the 1992 riots, emphasising the need for Hindu-Muslim unity and religious tolerance.
MIM’s presence in this contest cannot be overlooked because Khan, their candidate, had also contested the 2014 Assembly elections, and won 23,976 votes and was placed third. He was just behind the BJP candidate, who had received 25,791 votes. But, these by-polls are different from the 2014 elections there were no political alliances in Maharashtra then. Now, both the Shiv Sena and BJP, and the Congress and the NCP have joined hands again to reforge their partnerships.
Speaking about other concerns in the area, Natasha Trivedi, a resident of MIG colony, lamented the lack of road safety. “There is no road safety for the people living in this area. Since the last two years, people have been zooming in their vehicles through MIG colony to reach MHADA office and BKC, instead of using the regular road. Because of the increase in traffic, there have been a few accidents,” she said.
Another voter, Priti Singh, (44), from Nirmal Nagar, doesn’t have high expectations from the candidates. She said it was because of the non-performing elected members that the people are forced to have very low expectations. “I expect nothing more from the candidate than doing those things that he/she is elected for”, she told this paper.
A disappointed voter, Babu Jadhav, from Kherwadi, said, “The people who claimed to be working for the interests of Dalits have built multi-storey houses, and we have remained where we were.”