Constituency Watch: BJP Bastion Mumbai North Is ‘Open-Minded’, Elected A Royal And Rookies 4 Times Since 1952


(MENAFN- IANS) Mumbai, May 16 (IANS) Considered a BJP stronghold, the Mumbai North Lok Sabha seat is largely an open-minded constituency, accepting leadership of the so-called 'outsiders', and electing one royal and four political greenhorns since 1952.

The seat has readily embraced the so-called 'outsiders' in the 15 LS polls it has witnessed, and sent MPs of whom three became Central ministers in various governments.

In a sort of reversal, this time, a Union Minister of the BJP, Piyush Goyal, is contesting his maiden LS polls from Mumbai North against veteran Congress worker Bhushan K. Patil, who's also making his debut in electoral politics, and Vanchit Bahujan Aghadi's rookie nominee, advocate Sonal D. Gondane (33).

Billed as an 'outsider' in the poll campaigns, Goyal (59), who hails from the posh Malabar Bill area in south Mumbai, is locking horns with Patil, a resident of Borivali, while Gondane hails from Dahisar.

Given BJP's strong grip over the 18-lakh voters in the seat, including 19 per cent Muslims and 7 per cent Dalits, plus Marathis, Gujaratis and Rajasthanis, Goyal is confident of sailing through with his long bout of campaign for the May 20 elections.

A chartered accountant and a lawyer, Goyal is banking on his image as a Union Minister for the past 10 years, his political lineage -- his late father Vedprakash Goyal was a BJP Union Minister, while his mother Chandrakanta Goyal has been a three-time MLA -- the performance of the Modi government, plus the goodwill and the combined support of the BJP-Shiv Sena-Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) to see him through.

Nevertheless, he faces a tough challenge from the Maha Vikas Aghadi-INDIA bloc nominee Patil, who has the backing of the Congress-Shiv Sena (UBT)-Nationalist Congress Party (SP) and other allies.

Patil is also buoyed by a perceived 'sympathy' factor among the Marathis after senior SS (UBT) leader Abhishek V. Ghosalkar was shot dead on February 8 during a Facebook Live interaction with his constituents by a local goon named Mauris Noronha, who was reportedly planning to join the ruling MahaYuti ally Shiv Sena.

The SS (UBT) is also hoping for Marathi support after the party split (in June 2022), and even contemplated fielding Ghosalkar's widow, Tejasvee. But the Mumbai North constituency went to the Congress in the seat-sharing, and now all MVA allies are backing Patil.

Earlier, Mumbai North had elected a Kerala royal and Janata Party's Union Minister Ravindra Varma (1980), Congress' Narayan S. Kajrolkar (1952) who defeated B.R. Ambedkar from the seat then named Mumbai North Central, Union Minister V.K. Krishna Menon (twice, in 1957 & 1962), and BJP's Union Minister Ram Naik (5 times, 1989, 1991, 1996, 1998, 1999).

Mumbai North also embraced first-timers like Congress' Vithal Balkrishna Gandhi (1952) known as the 'American Gandhi', Janata Party's Mrinal K. Mohile-Gore (1977) – famed as the 'Paaniwali Bai', Congress' Anoopchand Shah (1984), and Congress' actor-politician Govinda (2004).

Incidentally, Govinda became a giant-killer in 2004 when he trounced the veteran Naik in one of the biggest upsets. Naik again bit the dust in 2009 when Congress' Sanjay Nirupam defeated him.

However, Bollywood actress Urmila Matondkar became a victim of Congress infighting in 2019, giving a smooth sail to the BJP's sitting MP Gopal C. Shetty in the two BJP waves (2014, 2019), but this time he had to make way for Goyal.

On the campaign trail since two months, Goyal has had his share of 'goof-ups', like walking around the fishing village and slums with his face covered as he couldn't bear the stench of the down-market localities, or trumpeting his ideas to relocate the slums from here to the barren salt-pans in north-eastern Mumbai to 'clean up' Mumbai North.

Both earned the ire of the locals with SS (UBT)'s Aditya Thackeray taking a jibe at him saying "the BJP wants to shift the slum-dwellers as they can't buy electoral bonds". The locals also didn't exactly relish Goyal walking around them with a kerchief to his nose and mouth.

Mumbai North comprises six Assembly segments of which four are held by the BJP, one by the Shiv Sena and the other by the Congress.

The break-up is -- BJP, Dahisar (MLA Manisha Chaudhary), Borivali (MLA Sunil Rane), Kandivali East (MLA Atul Bhatkhalkar) and Charkop (MLA Yogesh Sagar); Shiv Sena, Magathane (MLA Prakash Surve); and Congress, Malad West (MLA Aslam Shaikh).

Like the rest of city, Mumbai North has problems of slums congestion in nearly one-third of the seat, massive traffic, air pollution, the Poisar and Dahisar rivers which are virtually gutters, and lack of sufficient open spaces, though it has some good roads, railways and metro-rail connectivity, and things are gradually improving for the citizenry.

Perched on the north-western boundaries of the country's commercial capital, it ranks among the greenest constituencies, being home to the sprawling Sanjay Gandhi National Park teeming with leopards and other wild animals which often spill over to the adjoining concrete jungles.

It also nestles the world's largest unsupported stone domed Global Vipassana Pagoda with a capacity of 8,000 devotees, besides several picturesque beaches in Borivali and Malad, the 1,000-2,000 years old Kanheri Caves complex and other landmarks dotting the region.

(Quaid Najmi can be contacted at: ...)

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IANS

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