All six constituencies in Mumbai will go to polls on April 29 in the fourth phase of Lok Sabha elections. A total of 156 candidates will be contesting the elections from Mumbai this time, out of which 27 candidates will be fighting for the high-profile North Central seat.
From the narrow gullies of Chandivali to the posh Bandra West, Mumbai North Central constituency will see an interesting battle between its two prime candidates- Priya Dutt of Congress and Poonam Mahajan of the Bhartiya Janta Party.
While there are stark contrasts in the electorate from this constituency with voters from high rises, bungalows and slums, there are more than a few similarities between the two key candidates. Both, Mahajan as well as Dutt carry forward the legacy of their late fathers Pramod Mahajan of BJP and actor-politician Sunil Dutt of Congress, respectively. Poonam Mahajan and Priya Dutt were pitted against each other in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections as well. Priya Dutt was already a two-time MP then, whereas Poonam Mahajan was making her electoral debut at the time.
While Mahajan won the 2014 elections as the BJP candidate and is the sitting Member of Parliament from this constituency, Dutt was elected MP in both, 2004 and 2009 general elections.
Riding on the Modi-wave, the Bhartiya Janta Party swept the 2014 polls in Mumbai North Central as well and secured Mahajan a 1.86 lakh votes lead over her rival from Congress.
Poonam Mahajan garnered 56.6 percent of the total 8.45 lakh votes cast against 34.51 percent of the polled votes secured by Priya Dutt, in what has otherwise been a Congress stronghold constituency. Other candidates SP, BSP and AAP barely secured any votes in 2014.
Besides Dutt and Mahajan, other candidates that will be contesting elections from this constituency include transgender activist Sneha Kale and Vanchit Bahujan Aghadi candidate Dr AR Anjaria who is famous for his anti-terrorism campaigns, among others.
Just like the other parts of Mumbai, the North Central constituency, with its 17 lakh voters including film stars like Shah Rukh Khan, Salman Khan and Amir Khan, also saw a very poor turnout in 2014 elections, with less than half the registered voters showing up to cast their ballot.
The high cost of housing, basic civic amenities, growing urbanisation and strain on the infrastructure, rehabilitation of families affected by the airport redevelopment will be among the key issues that will be voted on by the people in this constituency.
BJP candidate Poonam Mahajan has promised completion of all transportation projects such as Metro and Mumbai Trans Harbour Link, speedy allotment of houses to airport slum-dwellers and fast-tracking of all slum rehabilitation projects if she is voted to power again.
Her rival Priya Dutt has said that housing issues would be her biggest priority, and she would sort out issues withholding development of slums if she is voted to power. Taking steps to improve air-quality also featured in her promises to the electorate while campaigning.
First Published: IST