In this second part of the series, the early projection for assembly seats in the Mumbai North West Lok Sabha constituency is covered. The Lok Sabha election 2019 was fought between the sitting MP Gajanan Kirtikar of the Sena and Sanjay Nirupam of Congress. Gajanan Kirtikar is not the typical street smart Sainik. He was part of the Shiv Sena’s white collared union (Sthanik Lokadhikar Samiti) and had worked in the Reserve Bank of India (RBI). Kirtikar is seventy plus years old and not that active on the ground. Sanjay Nirupam who was defeated in the adjoining Mumbai North seat in 2014, tried his luck by changing his seat and opposition. He thought that he might have more chances against the Sena opponent rather than a BJP one. But Nirupam lost again. However, the only silver lining for Sanjay Nirupam was that his margin of loss was reduced to 2.59 lakh.
The Mumbai North West Lok Sabha constituency has a large chunk of muslim voters (in areas like Jogeshwari, Oshiwara, Versova, Andheri) as well as a large number of Hindi speaking voters across the LS constituency. Nirupam was depending on these two demographies but the Hindi speaking voters voted for the Sena, as they backed Modi to become the Prime Minister again. The NDA got a lead in all the six seats of Mumbai North West as can be seen below.
Let us briefly look at individual assembly seats and the factors that can influence the upcoming assembly elections,
- Jogeshwari East: This seat has been a Shiv Sena stronghold with local leader and state minister Ravindra Waikar holding sway, due to a huge Marathi population. In the 2014 assembly election, the BJP got a respectable 43,805 votes and was placed second. But still Waikar won by a whopping 18% margin. Congress stood a poor third with 26,617 votes. Now with the NDA fighting together, the seat will go to the Sena and Waikar should win easily by getting over 60-65% of the votes polled (LS 2019 margin for NDA: 55,719 votes). Congress may field union leader Bhai Jagtap who had been the runner-up on this seat, in the 2009 assembly election.
- Dindoshi: The Dindoshi assembly seat is represented by Sunil Prabhu of the Shiv Sena who defeated Rajhans Singh of the Congress in 2014. Rajhans Singh who was the Congress MLA from this seat in 2009, has joined the BJP before the 2017 BMC election. The BJP which had 36,169 votes of it’s own in 2014 assembly election, has been further strengthened after the inclusion of Rajhans Singh. However, this seat would go to Sena in the 2019 assembly election and Sunil Prabhu might be repeated. Demographically the seat has a majority of Marathi, Gujarati and Hindi speaking voters, who are with the NDA. Sunil Prabhu should win with a comfortable margin (LS 2019 margin for NDA: 51,277 votes).
- Goregaon: Goregaon is a very interesting assembly seat. This has been an erstwhile socialist stronghold in the 1960s /70s and has been a strong Shiv Sena stronghold ever since. Yet in the 2014 assembly election, the Sena was in for a shock as their stalwart Subhash Desai was defeated by Vidya Thakur of the BJP by a small margin of 4,756 votes. The irony was that while the winner Vidya Thakur was made a junior minister from the BJP quota (as a woman minister from the Hindi speaking demographic), the defeated candidate Subhash Desai became a cabinet minister from the Sena quota. There would be hard negotiation between the BJP and Shiv Sena for the Goregaon assembly seat this time. The BJP which has a sitting MLA would want to retain this seat, the Sena would ask for this seat for its senior leader and potential Deputy CM Subhash Desai. Whichever party fights this seat from the NDA is assured of an easy victory (LS 2019 margin for NDA: 65,630 votes).
- Versova: The Versova seat provides the only chance for the Congress to open their account in the Mumbai North West LS constituency. In the 2014 assembly election, Dr. Bharati Lavekar won on a BJP ticket (she was the candidate from ally Vinayak Mete’s quota) defeating multiple term Congress MLA Baldev Khosa. Lavekar won by a margin of 26,398 votes and was helped by the fact that the Sena candidate’s nomination was rejected and AIMIM getting 20,127 votes. This seat used to be in the Sena quota till 2009 and might be swapped by the BJP for some other seat. This seat has a huge number of muslim voters as well as Hindi speaking voters. Muslim support for the Congress was evident in the Lok Sabha 2019 as the Congress got 59,562 votes. Congress has a chance to put up a fight if they replace their old candidate Baldev Khosa (a Sunil Dutt loyalist) and put up a promising new candidate. The AIMIM which had not fought the LS 2019 election would hurt the Congress in the assembly election. The AIMIM has plans to fight about 100 seats in alliance with Prakash Ambedkar’s VBA. I would classify this as a close fight with the NDA just about in the lead (LS 2019 margin for NDA: 9,499 votes).
- Andheri West: Andheri West assembly seat was snatched from the Congress by Ameet Satam of the BJP. Satam comes from the impressive list of young and efficient MLAs of the Mumbai BJP. He defeated ex MLA Ashok Jadhav of the Congress in the 2014 assembly election by a margin of 24,040 votes. Sena stood third at 26,721 votes. Andheri West was again a seat from the Sena quota till 2009 but the demography of this assembly has turned against the Sena. The BJP’s Ameet Satam has a better chance of winning this seat given his campaign against illegal hawkers in the area and engagement with the various citizen Advanced Locality Management (ALM) groups. Satam’s victory margin would depend on whether the MNS fights the election or decides to support the Congress, as well as the number of votes AIMIM gets on this seat (LS 2019 margin for NDA: 28,464).
- Andheri East: The Andheri East assembly seat was won by Ramesh Latke of the Shiv Sena in 2014 by narrowly defeating the BJP candidate Sunil Yadav by a margin of 5,479 votes. It is alleged that Yadav fixed the result with the Sena. This seat was held by the Congress in 2009 but the Congress votebank has been poached by the BJP thereafter. Thus the seat will be contested by the Shiv Sena in the 2019 assembly election and given the combined NDA strength, victory for the NDA candidate is a foregone conclusion. Though cumulative NDA votes of assembly 2014 have to be reduced as many muslim voters had voted for the Sena to defeat the BJP. It remains to be seen if Congress fields ex minister and ex MLA Suresh Shetty again. Shetty might give some fight to the Sena but clearly it would not be enough. The NDA victory margin is likely to be 50,000 plus (LS 2019 margin for NDA: 48,912).
In conclusion, the NDA is likely to win six out of the six assembly seats in the Mumbai North West Lok Sabha constituency. The Versova assembly seat is the only one that could see a tough fight, but the NDA could just pull it off.