With just five days to go for voting for the Maharashtra assembly election 2019, here is the first part of my prediction for the assembly seats in Mumbai. In this post, I will cover the twelve assembly seats that fall under the Lok Sabha seats of Mumbai North and Mumbai North West. NDA won all six Lok Sabha seats in Mumbai in the recent Lok Sabha 2019 election. Of the twelve assembly seats covered in this post, the BJP is fighting on 8 seats and the Shiv Sena on the remaining 4 seats.
Mumbai North Lok Sabha:
This seat covers the suburbs of Dahisar, Borivali, Kandivali and Malad. This area has become a stronghold of the BJP with the saffron party fighting five out of the six seats. The Sena is limited to fighting only one seat in this area.
- Borivali: Borivali assembly seat has been the bastion of BJP since a long time. This seat has been held by the BJP from 1980 (in fact Ram Naik held this seat in the 1978 assembly election but on a Janta Party ticket). Hence it wasnt a surprise that BJP got a lead of 1.18 lakh in the 2019 Lok Sabha election. The BJP changed it’s sitting MLA Vinod Tawde and gave ticket to an outsider. Sunil Rane who had fought unsuccessfully on a BJP ticket from the Worli assembly seat in the past has been given a sureshot winning ticket from Borivali. Rane will have a straight fight with Kumar Khilare of the Congress. Kumar Khilare is also an unknown face and is considered a weak candidate. The Congress should have fielded ex corporator Shivanand Shetty instead. Shetty has clout in Gorai area and could have given a strong fight. There are only four candidates in the fray with MNS choosing to save it’s deposit this time. The other two candidates are from the BSP and the unknown Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel Party. Hence, this will be a direct contest between the BJP and Congress. It is interesting to see the voter interest as a big name like Vinod Tawde is not in the fray. Fingers crossed to see if BJP indeed gets the biggest victory margin of the state from Borivali. But it is abundently clear that Sunil Rane of the BJP will win by a margin of 1 lakh plus votes.
- Dahisar: The NDA candidate got a lead of 79,419 in Dahisar assembly. In 2014 assembly election, the fight was between BJP and Shiv Sena. BJP’s Manisha tai Chaudhari pipped the sitting Sena MLA Vinod Ghosalkar. The BJP had retained this seat in the distribution between the saffron allies. The sitting MLA Manisha tai Chaudhari has been retained. She is fighting against Arun Sawant of the Congress and Rajesh Yerunkar of the MNS. Manisha tai’s victory margin is the only thing of interest as her victory is assured. It remains to be seen if Manisha Chaudhary can win by 75,000-80,000 votes or MNS manages to eat into a section of the Shiv Sena vote.
- Magathane: The NDA got a lead of 71,869 in this assembly segment that covers areas in the vicinity of the Western Express Highway and the National Park. The assembly seat is held by Prakash Surve of the Shiv Sena (he jumped to Sena from NCP in 2014). There was MNS influence on this seat as Pravin Darekar of the MNS had won the seat in 2009. However, Darekar joined the BJP later and the MNS influence has reduced considerably. Prakash Surve should retain this seat comfortably. His opponents are Manishankar Singh Chauhan of the NCP and Nayan Kadam of the MNS. Nayan Kadam is trying his luck in Magathane assembly seat after losing repeatedly in the Borivali seat. Prakash Surve of the Sena should win by a margin of 70,000-75,000 votes.
- Kandivali East: BJP got a lead of 79,538 in this assembly seat in the LS 2019 elections. The seat is represented by Atul Bhatkhalkar of the BJP. This seat has become a safe seat for the BJP after ex Cong MLA Ramesh Singh Thakur (famous builder and educationalist of this area) joined the BJP in 2017. Bhatkhalkar is contesting against Dr. Ajanta Yadav of the Congress. She is an ex-corporator from this area. The MNS and VBA are also contesting from the area. Atul Bhatkhalkar is expected to retain the seat with a margin of 75,000-80,000 votes.
- Charkop: This is another bastion of the BJP and gave a lead of 94,760 votes to the NDA in the Lok Sabha election. MLA Yogesh Sagar was recently made a state minister in the Devendra Fadnavis government to represent the Gujarati community, after Prakash Mehta was removed from the cabinet. His track record as MLA has been very good. The post of junior minister has enhanced the influence of Yogesh Sagar. Thus BJP retaining the Charkop seat is a forgone conclusion. His opponent Kalu Budhelia is not a formidable one and hence Yogesh Sagar should win by a margin of over 90,000 votes.
- Malad West: This is an interesting assembly seat as it is currently held by the Congress. The current MLA Aslam Sheikh had scraped through by 2,303 votes against the BJP candidate in 2014. The BJP and Sena had fought the 2014 assembly elections seperately, this helped Aslam Sheikh as the Sena candidate won 17,888 votes. As BJP and Shiv Sena were together in the 2019 Lok Sabha election, the NDA got a lead of approx 20,000 votes in Malad West. This assembly seat has a significant number of minority Muslim and Christian voters, which has always helped the Congress on this seat. However given that the BJP and Sena are going to fight the assembly election together, the NDA would snatch this seat from the Congress. Aslam Sheikh tried to join the BJP recently but was blocked by the RSS. Hence, he had to fight on the Congress ticket again. The BJP has put up Ramesh Singh Thakur against Sheikh. Thakur is a famous builder and educationalist from the Kandivali East area and was a former Congress MLA from Kandlivali East. He joined the BJP in 2017 and his son is a BJP corporator. Ramesh Singh Thakur should easily win this seat as the influence of MNS has reduced a lot in this area. Also AIMIM and Indian Union Muslim League (IUML) have fielded muslim candidates, who will act as irritants for Aslam Sheikh. Ramesh Singh Thakur of the BJP should snatch this seat from the Congress and win by a margin of 12,000-17,000 votes (LS 2019 margin for NDA: 20,027 votes).
Thus, I forecast a complete sweep by the NDA in the Mumbai North Lok Sabha constituency. This is simply a no-contest with the Congress and NCP too weak to put up a fight.
Mumbai North West Lok Sabha:
This seat covers areas which form part of Malad, Goregaon, Jogeshwari and Andheri. These areas were originally a Sena stronghold with the Sena fighting as many as five of the six seats. But the demography of this area has supported the BJP in the last five years with the BJP winning three out of the six seats in 2014. The BJP was the runner-up in the other three seats. This time the Sena and BJP are fighting three seats each.
- 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 has fielded Sunil Kumre who is not expected to give a tought fight to Waikar. Ravindra Waikar is expected to win with a margin of 50,000-55,000 votes.
- 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 has gone to the Sena in the 2019 assembly election and Sunil Prabhu is fighting to dfeend his seat. His opponent is Vidya Chavan of the NCP and Arun Surve of the MNS. Demographically the seat has a majority of Marathi, Gujarati and Hindi speaking voters, most of whom are with the NDA. Sunil Prabhu should win with a comfortable margin of 50,000-55,000 votes (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 representing the Hindi speaking demographic), the defeated candidate Subhash Desai became a cabinet minister from the Sena quota. The BJP has retained the Goregaon seat and repeated Vidya Chavan. Her opponents are Yuvraj Mohite of the Congress and Virendra Jadhav of the MNS. Vidya Thakur is expected to win by a margin of 63,000-68,000 votes (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 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. The main candidates have been repeated again with Dr. Bharati Lavekar again fighting on the BJP symbol and the Congress repeating Baldev Khosa (a Sunil Dutt loyalist). BJP’s worries have increased as Shiv Sena leader Rajul Patel is fighting as an independent this time and the MNS has also put up a candidate. The VBA have put up a muslim candidate which is a worry for the Congress. The absence of the AIMIM is a big relief for the Congress. The result depends upon how many votes the Sena rebel, MNS and VBA candidates obtain. I would classify this as a close fight with the NDA just about in the lead, but the Congress can give a shock to the BJP in this seat. Margin either ways would be between 4,000- 9,000 votes in the final analysis. (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. The same candidates Satam (BJP) and Jadhav (Congress) are in the fray again. Satam’s victory margin would depend on how many votes the MNS and AIMIM get on this seat. Ameet Satam of the BJP is likely to win by a margin of 30,000-35,000 votes (LS 2019 margin for NDA: 28,464).
- Andheri East: 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 vote bank 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. The Congress has fielded Amin Kutty while BJP rebel Murji Patel is in the fray. The Sena victory margin is likely to be between 40,000-45,000 votes (LS 2019 margin for NDA: 48,912).
Thus with the execption of the Versova assembly seat, the remaining five seats would be won by the NDA easily. If the BJP manages to hold on to the Versova assembly seat, the Mumbai North West Lok Sabha would also see a saffron clean sweep.