Can Congress-NCP combine turn the tables on the BJP-Sena alliance in Maharashtra?

-By Vinod Raghavan

Maharashtra will be going for the fourth and final phase of elections on April 29, for 17 seats including six seats from the country’s financial capital – Mumbai – Mumbai North, Mumbai North-West, Mumbai North-East, Mumbai North-Central, Mumbai South-Central.

In this phase out of 3,11,92,823 eligible voters, 1,66,31,707 are men, 1,45,59,698 women and 1,418 members of the third gender.

Mumbai has about 96.39 lakh electorates.
First three phase were held on April 11, 18 and 23 in seven, 10 and 14 seats respectively.

Union minister Subhash Bhamre, Congress leader Milind Deora and Congress candidate and cine star Urmila Matondkar are among the 323 candidates who are in the fray.

Interestingly, India’s richest industrialist Mukesh Ambani, openly came out in support of Congress nominee Milind Deora, contesting from South Mumbai ,which has surprised many in the political circle as Ambani is considered to be close to Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

In 2014, the BJP had won eight out of these 17 seats and its ally Shiv Sena had won nine.

Last year also, the BJP had won the bypoll to Palghar Lok Sabha seat, where sitting MP Rajendra Gavit is contesting on Shiv Sena”s ticket this time.

The Rangeela girl – actor Urmila Matondkar, is going strong in Mumbai North Lok Sabha constituency. Some Modi supporters tried to disrupt her corner meetings outside Borivali railway station by shouting ‘Modi Modi’, were badly thrashed by Congress supporters, while Urmila was undeterred by the incident and continued her programme.

Urmila who personally knew Raj Thackeray, visited him and he assured her full support and MNS workers are actively supporting her in this poll, which got the Marathi ‘Mulgi’ (girl) a good boost in this poll.

The curious case of Raj Thackeray

The Maharashtra Navnirman Sena – MNS – Chief Raj Thackeray has donned a new role in this election. Interestingly not a single candidate has been fielded by his party, but the zeal and enthusiasm of Raj and his men are telling.

The huge public rallies, Raj addresses, is a big hit as for the first time power point presentation has been used by any political party to “expose” Narendra Modi and Amit Shah’s ‘jumlas’ (bluffs).
His one-point program is to dislodge Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Amit Shah, as he claims in his interviews and public meetings, that the duo are responsible for the entire “mess”.

He is dead against demonetisation, implementation of GST and mocks the duo’s move to make air a in Pakistan as a campaign issue.

He has also come down heavily on BJP IT cell for spreading fake news. He has openly asked his followers not to spare trolls. In one of the incidents, his sainiks attacked a troller for spreading disinformation against their leader.

Bollywood’s impact on politics

Mumbai is known for the Bollywood and it’s political aspirations.

This elections while cine stars Sunny Deol, Shatrughan Sinha, Hema Malini, Paresh Rawal, Jaya Prada are contesting elections in different states, in Mumbai too it is Urmila Matondkar, a Congress nominee from Mumbai North LS Constituency, who is giving a spirited fight to the sitting BJP MP Gopal Shetty.

‘I am not stupid enough to imagine that people are going to look at my face and vote for me. They will initially look at me, but then I will have to fulfil their hopes and aspirations,’ a beaming Rangeela girl says.

Local residents of Mumbai North constituency claim that unlike other actors, Urmila just does not campaign from her vehicle and isn’t afraid of mingling with the crowd and discuss their issues.

Maharashtra was  a strong Congress-Nationalist Congress Party bastion but the Modi tsunami swept  the them out by grabbing 41 seats out of 48 Lok Sabha seats from the state in 2014.
After five years, it would be interesting to witness whether the saffron alliance led by BJP can hold the fort together again or not.


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