Elections 2019: SoBo traders root for Milind Deora

Updated: Apr 16, 2019, 09:19 IST | Dharmendra Jore

Jewellery merchants have expressed disappointment with the ruling government which might work in Deora's favour this election season

Elections 2019: SoBo traders root for Milind Deora
Milind Deora (in blue) on a morning walk at Worli Sea Face interacts with South Mumbai resident

The Shiv Sena doesn't know anything about the issues related to commerce, business and trade while the BJP knows just a bit, said diamond merchant Bharat Shah in a recent address to the traders' community. The Congress and its representatives like Milind Deora know it much better than anyone, and hence we should elect the son of late Murli Deora, the friend of city's business community, he insisted.

A video of Shah appealing before an audience of diamond merchants and others has been circulated widely. Deora's poll managers said that the sentiment expressed by Shah is common to the financial capital of the country. Shah said that the city had lost its voice in the last five years for the lack of an effective public representative in New Delhi. "Earlier, it was Murli bhai and Milind. The Shiv Sena doesn't know anything about our concerns and the BJP knows a bit, if not everything," he said, adding, "We must elect Milind Deora."

Deora is trying to cash in the sentiment prevailing among such effluent voters. "Many traders and businessmen have expressed to us that their hopes were crushed in the Narendra Modi regime. They say their voice wasn't heard because they didn't have access to the government," said a Deora campaigner in-charge of interacting with the business community leaders.

A diverse constituency

The South Mumbai constituency is a mix of affluent, higher/middle/lower middle class and slum populations. Mill land Maharashtrians, and non-Maharashtrians, who have been here for generations driving the economic engine of the city, make their choice between the Congress and saffron parties. Deora, a cosmopolitan face of the Congress, carries on the legacy of his father, who a very popular leader of the city. He was made chief of the city Congress unit ahead of the polls, making him responsible for winning the five seats and help ally NCP retain one in Mumbai North East.

South Mumbai has a number of major market places —clothes, diamonds, jewellery, pharmaceuticals, electronics, foreign merchandise — and a number of corporate houses.
The city's largest Muslim-dominated area is also here. The constituency holds on to the city's remarkable cosmopolitan character.

Deora's 3D strategy

Deora's poll managers feel that they will be able to turn the tide with the help of the business community residing here and providing employment to lakhs of people who in turn may vote for the Congress elsewhere in the city.

A trader in the bullion market, who also makes and sells ornaments, said that his business had taken a hit like never before in the Modi regime. "Many people working for me and others lost jobs. We too ran in losses. The government hasn't taken our views seriously," he said.

The government wants the traders here to shut shop to protect air quality affected with the fumes from the manufacturing units across Kalbadevi, Bhuleshwar, Gulalwadi, Zaveri Bazar etc. Around two lakh artisans work here and shifting business would mean compromising with everything. The 200-year-old trade centre accounts for 70 per cent of the country's total gold business.

2 lakh
No. of artisans working in Kalbadevi-Zaveri bazaar

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