Here, Congress stands the tallest, but MNS may yet bend the rules

Mumbai, September 30: The Mumbai North Central parliamentary constituency, which comprises six assembly seats, has been a Congress stronghold over the past decade. However, there are also some pockets where the Shiv Sena and the BJP dominate.

In the past five years, a wide range of development work has been carried out here by the Democratic Front (DF) government–from the first skywalk of the city in Bandra (East), to the first line of metro rail, which is set to pass through the north side of the constituency. Though this development will eventually help the area, the ongoing work, and the resulting traffic snarls and the pollution, has upset many voters.

Of the six seats, two of the most intriguing battles in the region will be fought in Bandra (West) and the Vile Parle assembly constituency. While in Bandra (West), two-time Congress MLA Baba Siddique will face tough competition from the Bharatiya Janta Party’s (BJP) veteran corporator Ashish Shelar, with the Samajwadi Party candidate likely to make the going tough for both, Vile Parle will witness a fierce battle between Mumbai Congress spokesperson Krishna Hegde, Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) general secretary Shirish Parkar and Shiv Sena leader Vinayak Raut.

Shelar has been eyeing a ticket from this constituency for the past three years. But, with a majority of voters (approximately 35%) belonging to the Muslim community, Baba Siddique may pip him to the post. To add to their woes, there are good chances that the Samajwadi party candidate will scoop out some Dalit votes.

However, it is in Vile Parle that the clang of the electoral swordfight–between the MNS and the Shiv Sena–will be the shrillest. Parkar, who fought the parliamentary election from the North Mumbai seat, has been campaigning overtime in the Marathi dominated areas, where the voters have traditionally leaned towards the Sena. Krishna Hegde, on the other hand, will be depending heavily on the loyal Congress voters, particularly in the Vile Parle (West) area.

Other areas such as Kalina, Kurla, Chandivli and Bandra (East) may see relatively one-sided battles, with the Congress standing taller than its opponents. Kalina will see a relatively new campaigner from the BJP, Advocate Dinanath Tiwari, who will take on the might of the city Congress chief Kripashankar Singh. Bandra (East) will be a test for the MNS candidate Shilpa Sarpotdar, who has two strong opponents in Ajit Sawant of the Sena and two-time Congress MLA Janardan Chandurkar.