South Mumbai residents grill candidates on failed promises, future plans

Updated: Apr 24, 2019, 10:54 IST | Hemal Ashar | Mumbai

Congress candidate Milind Deora and Sena's Arvind Sawant take potshots at meet

Arvind Sawant and Milind Deora at the meeting. Pic/Suresh Karkera
Arvind Sawant and Milind Deora at the meeting. Pic/Suresh Karkera

It was a turbo-charged evening at Meher building garden at Altamount Road as a swathe of SoBo resident organisations held a meet-the-candidate evening. The Altamount Road citizens committee, along with Napean Sea Road, Pedder Road and Carmichael Road invited candidates to address locals on a host of issues on Tuesday evening.

Apart from MP Arvind Sawant and former MP Milind Deora, the meeting had in attendance Dr Anil Kumar of Bombay Hospital of the Vanchit Bahujan Aghadi Party. "We are hardly equal. Both the health and education sectors are sold out. People have to pay R1 lakh for a seat in K G class today." The cardiologist asked people to give him
"one chance."

Arvind Sawant, who spoke next, said that he still remembered the meeting of 2014 at the same venue where he was "humiliated when a resident asked why Shiv Sena was fielding its weakest candidate here." That weakest candidate won by 1,28,000 votes but "I cannot forget that humiliation."

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South Mumbai MP Arvind Sawant (left) took potshots at Congress leader Milind Deora at the meeting at Altamount Road. Pic/Suresh Karkera
South Mumbai MP Arvind Sawant (left) took potshots at Congress leader Milind Deora at the meeting at Altamount Road. Pic/Suresh Karkera

Sawant said that he had raised many SoBo issues in the Parliament. "From students joining the IS to local issues. I have a connect with the people. When a building falls, Arvind Sawant is there, when a bridge collapses, Arvind Sawant is there," he insisted, adding that the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) stood for a strong and unified India. He ended by urging people to press the "bow 'n' arrow and watch the lotus bloom in Delhi."

Deora, who entered the meet an hour late, said that the Congress had lost in 2014, because people wanted Narendra Modi at the Centre and hence overlooked the candidate. "Voters have overlooked candidates with criminal charges," Deora said, hinting at one charge against Sawant. "I do not have a single charge against me.

Unfortunately today we have become de-sensitised and immune to candidates with criminal charges, SoBo needs zero tolerance towards criminality," he said. Sawant shot back saying, "I have one charge of 2005 and that is politically motivated. The warrant was cancelled. When a candidate sits within the four walls of his room, never dares to step out on the road for his people, he will not have a charge against him. Look at the Congress leaders Rahul Gandhi and Sonia Gandhi who are out on bail.

Now, there is an FIR against Milind Deora too. Chalo ek dhabba lag gaya. (one smear now)." As the audience listened stupefied, Sawant slammed, "I cite a press report here which says Milind Deora and Sanjay Nirupam amongst four others found guilty of paid news," he read out, ending, "Milind Deora is a good human being in a wrong party, and by defaming me, he cannot become correct."

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Locals disappointed

As Sawant left, Deora then did some more Shiv Sena-BJP bashing reminding his audience that the Sena and BJP will fall out once against post elections. Disappointed residents exited with a feeling that the real purpose of the meeting had been lost, to ask candidates what they would do for the constituency.

Boxing bout over, but SoBo spectators shortchanged, was the moral of all that South Mumbai sizzle. Like the Indian Premier League (IPL) commentators would say, it is all happening in the world's biggest festival of democracy.

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