The Mumbai North East seat has seen a lot of drama even before the candidate nominations were done. The Shiv Sena was opposed to sitting MP Kirit Somaiya. Somaiya and BJP Mumbai chief Ashish Shelar were at the forefront of the slanging match with the Shiv Sena in the last 4.5 years. Once the alliance was between BJP and Shiv Sena was sealed for the general election of 2019, the Sena cadre and leadership had started making noises that Somaiya would not be acceptable to them. The ticket for this seat was delayed as BJP tried to reason with the Sena but to no avail. Finally the BJP decided to change their candidate and selected sitting corporator Manoj Kotak. Manoj Kotak had contested the 2014 assembly election from Bhandup earlier and had got decent number of votes in the Sena bastion.
The NCP on the other hand has once again nominated their local satrap Sanjay Dina Patil, the son of late Dina Bama Patil, Congress leader and union leader in his own right. Sanjay Patil had narrowly won the 2009 election due to the vote split by MNS. He was defeated by Kirit Somaiya in the Modi wave of 2014. NCP is a conglomeration of such satraps and hence it was no surprise that he would be renominated. The Vanchit Bahujan Aghadi (VBA) of Prakash Ambedkar and Owaisi have put up a candidate as has the Bahujan Samaj party (BSP).
The LS 2014 vote details for Mumbai North East seat were as follows,
Kirit Somaiya of the BJP garnered over 60% of the votes polled. The situation had changed drastically after the Lok Sabha 2014 election. The narrative was entirely around the fight between BJP and Shiv Sena ensured that the NCP was relegated to the sidelines in the assembly polls of 2014 and the BMC elections of 2017. The BJP looked comfortably placed to win the seat on their own, even if there was a Shiv Sena candidate in the fray. Look at how the votes add up for the six assembly segments that fall within this Lok Sabha constituency,
BJP had not fought the Mankhurd seat and had left Vikhroli for ally RPI(A). Even after that the simple addition of votes puts BJP on top. With the BJP-Sena alliance in place now, the majority for the NDA is huge. Though there are few other factors that further enhance the NDA numbers or act as impediments. We would deal with these factors later.
Let me first discuss the assembly constituencies that fall under the Mumbai North East Lok Sabha constituency,
- Mulund is a BJP bastion dominated by Marathi and Gujarati voters and always gives huge leads to the BJP. In LS 2014, the BJP led by approx 92,000 votes from Mulund alone. Addition of Sena votes (as can be seen above from assembly election figures) could stretch the lead to above one lakh.
- BJP can get leads of 70,000 each in Ghatkopar East and West constituencies. Ghatkopar East is a Gujarati dominated constituency while Ghatkopar West has a charismatic MLA Ram Kadam.
- Bhandup is a Marathi dominated constituency which had given a lead of 70,000 to the NDA in LS 2014. Though a Sena bastion, the BJP gave a tough fight in the assembly polls of 2014. The MNS has a significant number of votes in Bhandup. It will be interesting to see if any of these voters vote for the NCP. The NCP candidate Sanjay Patil is from Bhandup and has a base among the aagri voters. While the Konkani Malwani voters (hailing from the Konkan region) are predominantly Sena and NDA voters.
- Vikhroli is a Sena dominated constituency with significant support for the NCP and MNS. Vote transfer in the NDA could be in test here.
- Mankhurd-Shivajinagar is a muslim and dalit dominated constituency. This was the only assembly segment that gave Sanjay Patil a lead of approx 20,000 votes in LS 2014.
If we extrapolate the assembly results of 2014 with the BMC 2017 polls and other factors, we can come to the following scenario,
This is a huge lead to the NDA. Even if we remove 15% of NDA votes to factor in anti-incumbency (as a scenario), still NDA will win with a huge margin.
The following factors will influence the result of Mumbai North East constituency on the 29th of April,
- BJP will be gunning for huge leads in Mulund (around 1 lakh), Ghatkopar East (around 60,000) and Ghatkopar West (around 60,000). This can give a good margin of 2 lakh plus votes to the NDA.
- The huge number of Gujarati speaking voters in Mulund and Ghatkopar are the real X factor of the BJP. If the BJP can get a huge turnout and near consolidation of these voters, then BJP will be home and dry. There are around 66,000 Gujarati speaking voters in Ghatkopar East assembly constituency alone.
- BJP MLA Ram Kadam has a larger than life picture in Ghatkopar West constituency where he personally helps voters in his constituency. Ram Kadam had won Ghatkopar West in 2009 on a MNS ticket defeating Poonam Mahajan. He shifted to BJP in 2014 and was re-elected again. He is in good books of CM Devendra Fadnavis.
- BJP depends on the Shiv Sena for vote transfer in Bhandup and Vikhroli. BJP candidate Manoj Kotak has good relations with the local BJP leadership and that should help. BJP on own is gaining voters in Bhandup and Vikhroli. Some of my relatives who are traditional Sena voters were planning to vote for BJP (for Narendra Modi) if the BJP-Sena alliance had not happened.
- Also many new high-rise residential societies have come up in Vikhroli, Kanjurmarg and Bhandup area in last 10 years. This has led to an increase in the support base for the BJP due to these upper middle class voters.
- BJP-Sena have to ensure that turnout exceeds 50% (2014: 51.7%) for a comfortable win. The election date bang in the middle of summer vacations adds to their challenges.
- MNS has garnered approx 1 lakh votes in the assembly elections of 2014. However, they have lost considerable clout in Bhandup as ex MNS MLA Shishir Shinde has returned back to the home party (Sena).
- The Metro 4 (connect Chembur to Thane) construction has started along the LBS marg. While it will cause inconvenience to the people, the project promises easy connectivity from CSM terminus to Thane. It passes through Vikhroli, Ghatkopar West, Bhandup West and Mulund assembly constituencies. This project will help the BJP gain votes of the middle class commuters.
- The Samajwadi Party (SP) and AIMIM are likely to lose a lot of their muslim vote to the NCP which is part of the UPA. They would be inconsequential players in the 2019 war. NCP has to ensure huge lead in Mankhurd Shivajinagar to ensure a respectable vote tally.
- The combination of Narendra Modi as the Prime Minister and Devendra Fadnavis as the Chief Minister is a vote magnet for the BJP everywhere in Mumbai.
Manoj Kotak would win the seat easily due to BJP enjoying the popular work and due to work done by current MP Kirit Somaiya. Hope BJP accomodate Somaiya in the Rajya Sabha and involve him in the NDA 3 government.