Mumbai's multi-corner contests spell uncertainty (Election Special)
The quadrangular contests in all the six Lok Sabha constituencies in the country's commercial capital has spelt uncertainty over the outcome of the election scheduled here Thursday.
None of the major political parties and prominent candidates - among 116 in total - in the fray can confidently say which way the final scales will tilt given the multiple choices before the electorate.
The main contending parties are the the Congress (five constituencies) and Nationalist Congress Party (one) combine on the one hand and the Bharatiya Janata Party and Shiv Sena (three each) on the other.
The other contenders include the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (three), Samajwadi Party (four) and the Aam Aadmi Party and the Bahujan Samaj Party (six each). There are also many smaller parties and independents.
This makes it a minimum quadrangular contest in all six constituencies and higher in some.
Despite the bravado exhibited by most parties on television and public rallies, in private party managers admit that everything will depend on the polling percentages.
South Mumbai is quite crowded with Congress candidate and union Minister Milind Deora facing not just Shiv Sena's Arvind Sawant, whom he defeated in 2009, but also AAP's corporate honcho, Meera Sanyal.
Another important contender is Communist Party of India's dark horse Prakash Reddy, besides Bala Nandgaonkar of MNS who polled more votes than Shiv Sena in 2009. BSP's Abdus Salam Khan Qasmi is also a candidate.
The situation is similar in Mumbai South-Central with Congress strongman Eknath Gaekwad, Shiv Sena's Rahul Shewale, MNS' Aditya Shirodkar, SP's Abbas Shaikh and BSP's A. Ganesh in the fray.
The Congress can take consolation over the fact that Gaekwad enjoys an impeccable image. His daughter Varsha is a state cabinet minister.
Mumbai North-Central seems a beehive of contestants.
Priya Dutt, the outgoing Congress MP and daughter of former union minister and actor Sunil Dutt, is pitted against Poonam Mahajan, daughter of former BJP strongman Pramod Mahajan, who was shot dead over a decade ago.
The AAP has fielded Pheroze Palkhivala, nephew of the former legal luminary and ex-ambassador to the US Nani Palkhivala. SP's state president Abu Asim Azmi's son and celeb hotelier Farhan A. Azmi and BSP's Anand Vyankatrao are the other main candidates.
In Mumbai North-West, former union minister and Congress general secretary Gurudas Kamat is hoping to retain the seat in the fight against Shiv Sena's Gajanan Kirtikar, MNS' Bollywood actor Mahesh Manjrekar and AAP's Mayank Gandhi.
There is also BSP's Pushpa Bhole and SP's Bollywood actor-director M.R. Kamal Khan and Rashtriya Aam Party's Bollywood item girl Rakhi Sawant with a green chilli as her election symbol.
The presence of three Bollywood personalities is owing to the fact that this is the constituency where the 'Glamour Crescent' comprising the homes of top Bollywood personalities from Bandra to Versova falls.
Mumbai North has a strong battle in store with current Congress and former journalist MP Sanjay Nirupam fighting BJP's hotelier Gopal Shetty and AAP's Satish Jain, SP's Kamlesh S. Yadav and BSP's Ashok C. Singh being the others in the fray.
Mumbai North, like some other constituencies, has a near equal sprinkling of the north Indian, minority and Gujarati votes which both the main contenders -- Nirupam and Shetty -- are eyeing.
The NCP is contesting Mumbai North-East with outgoing MP Sanjay D. Patil locking horns with formidable rivals like BJP's Kirit Somaiya and AAP's Medha Patkar. BSP has put up academician H.M. Chate.
The closely fought elections in Mumbai shall also be closely watched as the Congress-NCP hope to repeat its feat of 2009 -- capturing all the six seats in the city.
Since 1977, the peculiarity of Mumbai electorate is such that no single party has bagged all six seats though the BJP-SS alliance managed to match the Congress' (2009) record in 1996 by bagging three seats each.
(Posted on 23-04-2014)