In today’s post on the final prediction for the assembly seats in Mumbai, I cover the six assembly seats of Mulund, Vikhroli, Bhandup West, Ghatkopar West, Ghatkopar East and Mankhurd-Shivajinagar, that are included in the Mumbai North East Lok Sabha constituency. This Lok Sabha seat includes the Central suburbs of Mumbai and adjoins Thane and Navi Mumbai. Most of these seats are dominated by the BJP and the Shiv Sena and the finaliation fo the alliance (युती) helps them consolidate their position. The BJP and Shiv Sena are fighting three seats each.
Let us discuss each of these assembly seats in detail,
- Mulund: Mulund is a strong bastion of the BJP in the Eastern suburbs of Mumbai. The BJP has held this seat since 1990. MLAs like Wamanrao Parab, Kirit Somaiya and Sardar Tara Singh has held the seat ever since. Sardar Tara Singh has been a four-time MLA from Mulund and his retirement was being speculated this time. This indeed happened and the BJP has announced Mihir Kotecha as their candidate. The BJP has always polled over 44% of the votes in Mulund in the last six elections since 1990, with over 51% votes on five occasions except 2009 (peak of MNS wave). This tells us how strong a bastion this is for the BJP. Also the Metro Line 4 passes through Mulund (along the LBS marg) and will be helpful for the commuters who travel to CST or Thane in peak hours. Life changing infrastructure projects like this are helping the BJP in increasing its appeal among various section of voters. Hence, Kotecha’s victory is assured and the only question is about his victory margin. The Congress candidate Govind Singh is a novice and the MNS candidate Harshala Chavan is an also ran. The demography of Mulund supports the BJP as it is dominated by Marathi and Gujarati speaking voters as well as a significant amount of Punjabi-Sikh voters. BJP had a victory margin of 65,307 votes in the 2014 assembly election. The Sena candidate had got 26,259 votes than as well as MNS got 13,432 votes. With the yuti in place this time, Mihir Kotecha will win with a margin of over 90,000 votes (LS 2019 margin for NDA: 87,183 votes).
- Vikhroli: The Vikhroli assembly segment is dominated by Marathi speaking Hindu and Scheduled caste voters. This seat was created during the delimitation exercise before the 2009 assembly election and was won by Mangesh Sangale of the MNS by over 20,000 votes. The Sena’s Sunil Raut (brother of motormouth Sanjay Raut) snatched the seat from Sangale with a margin of 25,339 votes in the 2014 assembly election. The BJP had given this seat to the RPI(Athavale) in the 2014 assembly election, but they got only 5.3% of the total votes polled. The MNS has lost a lot of clout since their heydays of 2007-2012, with even Mangesh Sangale ditching the party to join the BJP. The Sena would get the BJP votes too due to the alliance. The NCP has fielded Dhananjay Pisal while the MNS has fielded Vinod Shinde. The NCP has also lost strength after ex MP Sanjay Dina Patil defected to the Shiv Sena. The secular vote would be divided further by the candidates of BSP and VBA. Sunil Raut of Shiv Sena will win by a victory margin of about 30,000-35,000 votes (LS 2019 margin for NDA: 29,089).
- Bhandup West: Bhandup West assembly has been a strong bastion of the Shiv Sena but has been challenged by the BJP ever since the 2014 assembly election. Ashok Patil of the Sena defeated Manoj Kotak of the BJP (Kotak is now the BJP MP from Mumbai North East LS seat) by a margin of only 4,772 votes. BJP gets a lot of support among the voters who live in the high-rises along the LBS road. Also educated voters in Bhandup have started supporting the BJP. Shishir Shinde of the MNS who had won this seat in 2009, stood third in 2014 and got 36,183 votes. A lot of these votes were due to his personal popularity in this area. Congress stood fourth with just 10% votes. Shishir Shinde rejoined the Sena (he had left along with Raj in 2007) just before the LS 2019 election. Ex-MP from Mumbai North East LS Sanjay Patil, whose family used to have a clout in Bhandup has recently joined the Sena from the NCP. This coupled with the yuti factor ensures that Shiv Sena will win Bhandup West without breaking a sweat. The Sena replaced it’s sitting MLA Ashok Patil with corporator Ramesh Korgaonkar. Sena voters have a love-hate relationship with Korgaonkar, with many of them angry about his candidature. Many such disgruntled Sena voters are likely to vote for the MNS. But overall, Sena is far ahead in the race. The Congress candidate Suresh Koparkar might come third behind the Sena and the MNS (Sandeep Jalgaonkar). I predict Ramesh Korgaonkar of the Shiv Sena to win the Bhandup West assembly seat with a victory margin of 40,000-45,000 votes (LS 2019 margin for NDA: 45,949).
- Ghatkopar West: This seat has been monopolised by Ram Kadam since 2009. In the 2009 assembly election, he fought on the MNS ticket and defeated Poonam Mahajan of the BJP by 26,228 votes. Poonam Mahajan has since gone on to be the two term MP from Mumbai North Central LS seat and might be a union minister in the future. Ram Kadam then jumped ship to the BJP and got re-elected in 2014 with an even bigger margin of 41,916 votes. The runner up was the Sena and the third position was secured by MNS. The Congress and NCP stood fourth and fifth. This shows that this assembly seat dominated by Marathi speaking Hindu and Buddhist voters is a lost cause for the Congress. Together the BJP and Sena candidates polled 74.4% votes in the 2014 assembly election. Thus Anand Shukla of the Congress is actually in a fight with Ganesh Chukkal of the MNS for the runners-up position. Ram Kadam who was a close aide of the Late Pramod Mahajan is a real estate developer and he is known to help the needy people in his constituency financially or in other ways. This has helped build his image in that area. Also contesting on a BJP ticket will help him garner the committed upper middle class BJP vote. Ram Kadam should retain the Ghatkopar West assembly seat for a third time with a margin of 45,000-50,000 votes (LS 2019 margin for NDA: 42,727).
- Ghatkopar East: Ghatkopar East has been a BJP bastion for a long time. The assembly is dominated by Gujarati speaking voters and was represented by Prakash Mehta, who was also a minister in the Devendra Fadnavis cabinet. However, due to corruption allegations, Mehta fell out of grace with the BJP top brass and has been replaced with Parag Shah, who is a real estate developer and the richest candidate in this year’s Maharashtra elections. Shah would be fighting against Manisha Suryawanshi of the Congress and Satish Pawar of the MNS. If we go by the 2014 assembly election numbers, Prakash Mehta had won by a margin of 40,127 votes against the Sena candidate. Congress candidate Pravin Chheda (who rejoined the BJP before the LS 2019 election) stood third. So the Congress has no chance against the BJP-Sena yuti. The MNS is just fighting to increase it’s vote share and stay relevant. I predict Parag Shah of the BJP to win the Ghatkopar East assembly seat with a margin of 65,000-70,000 votes (LS 2019 margin for NDA: 63,138 votes).
- Mankhurd-Shivajinagar: This is a sure-shot seat for the UPA whose candidate is the sitting MLA and Maharashtra & Mumbai president of the Samajwadi party (SP) Abu Asim Azmi. Azmi has won this muslim dominated seat twice in 2009 and 2014. In the 2014 assembly election, Abu Azmi defeated Suresh Patil of the Sena by a margin of 9,937 votes. The Congress and NCP stood third and fourth with 27,494 and 5,632 votes respectively. Since SP is in the UPA alliance this time, the division of muslim votes will be avoided and Azmi will have a comfortable lead over his opponents. The VBA has a muslim candidate but the absence of AIMIM in the fray helps Abu Azmi. The Sena candidate is Vitthal Lokare who could garner a significant number of votes, but unlikely to challenge Abu Azmi. Lokare will depend on the votes of the Scheduled castes and the Hindu voters (Marathi and Hindi speaking) in this area. I predict Abu Azmi of the SP to win this assembly seat with a margin of 35,000-40,000 votes (LS 2019 margin for UPA: 42,062 votes).
In conclusion, the NDA is expected to comfortably win five of the six assembly seats that make the Mumbai North East Lok Sabha constituency. Mankhurd-Shivajinagar is the only seat that the UPA is sure to win. The BJP would win all the three seats they are contesting while the Sena will win two out of the three seats they are fighting.