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Mumbai readies for two key LS contests (Dangal 2019)

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IANS Mumbai
The country's commercial capital is prepared to witness two key contests in the Mumbai North-Central and Mumbai North-West Lok Sabha constituencies.
Both constituencies also have candidates with interesting lineages.
In Mumbai North-Central, the sitting Bharatiya Janata Party MP Poonam Mahajan is pitted against the Congress' three-time former MP Priya Dutt-Roncon. This is the only constituency in the city where the 17 lakh voters will choose between two strong women contenders.
Both hail from powerful political families. Poonam is the daughter of the late union minister Pramod Mahajan and neice of the late union minister Gopinath Munde.
Priya is daughter of the late union minister Sunil Dutt and her mother, Nargis, was a Rajya Sabha member, with the family very close to the Nehru-Gandhis.
The constituency comprises six assembly segments, of which two are held by the BJP, three by ally Shiv Sena and one by the Congress, encircling the suburbs of Bandra-Kurla-Chandivali-Kalina-Santacruz-Vile Parle.
Prior to the delimitation exercise a few years ago, the constituency was held by the Shiv Sena, which won the seat thrice in 1989, 1996, 1999. In 1998, it was won by the Union Minister of State for Social Welfare Ramdas Athawale, before Poonam Mahajan trounced Priya Dutt in 2014 during the Modi wave.
This time, there is no wave and the constituency - with a significant cosmopolitan population with a visible urban rich-poor divide and minorities - poses a significant challenge to both Mahajan and Dutt.
Adjacent is the Mumbai North-West constituency which also have interesting but formidable main rivals - the Shiv Sena's Gajanan Kirtikar and Congress' Sanjay Nirupam.
Incidentally, both are reported to be good friends from the days when Nirupam was still in the Sena as a two-time Rajya Sabha Member and Executive Editor of 'Dopahar Ka Saamana' before he moved to the Congress in April 2005 and was later elected to Lok Sabha from Mumbai North, trouncing BJP's former union minister Ram Naik.
The 17 lakh voters will have to choose between a loyal Shiv Sainik like Kirtikar vis-A-vis a prominent intellectual and aggressive Congressman like Nirupam - though neither hail from political lineages like Mahajan and Dutt - and have achieved their current status through sheer grit and hard work.
The advantage for soft-demeanoured Kirtikar is that all the six assembly segments making up Mumbai North-West are held equally (three each) by BJP-Sena legislators, encircling the suburbs of Andheri-Versova-Jogeshwari-Goregaon-Dindoshi.
But that is balanced by Nirupam's formidable presence as a three-time MP (including twice as a Rajya Sabha MP from the Shiv Sena), a powerful orator with acceptance among all sections of people in the cosmopolitan constituency, plus a high-profile former Mumbai Congress President.
Another plus point for Nirupam is his great rapport with the minority Muslim and Christian communities which have significant pockets in Andheri, Jogeshwari and Malad, despite a yawning divide between the urban rich and poor, as in most parts of Mumbai.
In both Mumbai North-Central and Mumbai North-West, Mahajan and Kirtikar will harp on the developments under Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government on various fronts, which are likely to be punctured by Dutt and Nirupam in the absence of any wave this time around.
Prime among the issues of discussion would be urban problems of traffic, high cost of living and housing, the upcoming Mumbai Coastal Road project which has significant opposition and the inhuman commuting in Mumbai's local trains.
Both constituencies have a large concentration of Bollywood and the glamour industry personalities in them comfortably ensconced with boroughs of slum-dwellers, fisherfolk and chunks of lower-middle and middle-classes, hailing from all over India.
(Quaid Najmi can be contacted at q.najmi@ians.in)
--IANS
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First Published: Mar 27 2019 | 9:00 PM IST

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