Mumbai North-West Lok Sabha constituency sees pitched battle between the two Shiv Sena’s with both the candidates under ED scanner

The people from the constituency however feel that they are being taken for a ride. “Travelling in the Andheri Jogeshwari belt is a nightmare especially during the peak hours. The politicians are hardly doing anything to solve this issue. The recent Gokhale bridge reconstruction was botched up as they failed to connect to the old adjoining one,” rued Rakesh Khanna, resident of Andheri.

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Mumbai: Vijay Hadas, who lives in one of the slum pockets inside the Aarey Milk Colony rues that politicians every five years promise them to solve their housing problem but then nothing happens in the interim period. The slums are denied permission for refurbishment as they are in the Aarey Milk Colony which is now declared as a forest area where all rehousing projects are restricted. “How can one city have two different rules for different areas of the same city? Even we need good formal houses like others,” said Hadas.

The Aarey Milk Colony forms a part of the Mumbai North-West Lok Sabha constituency where both the factions of the Shiv Sena are fighting a pitched battle to win this prestigious seat.

The Shiv Sena (SS-UBT) faction has fielded Amol Kirtikar, son of veteran Sena leader Gajanan Kirtikar who incidentally is with the rival Shiv Sena (Chief Minister Eknath Shinde) faction. In the poll fray against him from the Shiv Sena (SS-ES) faction is Ravindra Waikar, once a close aide of UBT chief Uddhav Thackeray. Both the candidates are under the scanner of the Enforcement Directorate (ED).

Both the candidates assert that slum refurbishment will be the main priority and blame each other for their failure.

Amol Kirtikar accuses Waikar of its failure to give any respite to these slum dwellers over the years. “Waikar was the state minister for housing and failed miserably to address this issue,” said Amol Kirtikar. However, Waikar retorts. “The people of this constituency complain that Gajanan Kirtikar never visited them. At that time, his son Amol was looking after this constituency. What did he do from the last 10 years” said Waikar.

As Amol’s candidature was announced early by Uddhav Thackeray, his father Gajanan Kirtikar refused to contest against his son. Chief Minister Eknath Shinde refused to part this seat to his ally BJP but found it very difficult to select the candidate for this seat. He finally zeroed in on Ravindra Waikar, a popular legislator from Jogeshwari who was actually reluctant to fight the Lok Sabha elections.

The Mumbai North-West Lok Sabha constituency covers a vast area and includes areas like Goregaon, Jogeshwari and Andheri. This constituency has six assembly segments, three of which Andheri (West), Versova and Goregaon are represented by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Jogeshwari East is with Shinde Sena while the remaining two assembly seats of Dindoshi and Andheri (East) are with Sena UBT.

This constituency has around 16.98 lakh voters of which the Maharashtrians dominate it with 6,05,400 lakh voters followed by North Indians with 3,71,900 lakh and 3,23,100 lakh Muslim voters.

This constituency has areas like the plush Lokhandwala complex in Andheri West, the fishermen village at Versova, the green lung of Aarey Milk Colony as well as the airport area. The issues like lack of infrastructure, traffic congestion, pollution, slow pace of revamp as well as unemployment plague this area.

Waikar who has been a state minister and headed the prestigious civic Standing Committee for four times calls his rival Amol a political novice. “Amol has no experience in public life. What will he do in parliament, which is the highest legislative body in the country, when he cannot talk publicly?’ questioned Waikar. “In contrast I am a brand who is associated with getting work done. This has been proved during both my stint as corporator and legislator of Jogeshwari,” he added.

Waikar has been under the ED’s scanner for allegedly violating the agreement between him and the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) with regards to the construction of a five-star hotel at Jogeshwari. It is said he was forced to defect to the Shinde faction to save himself from this issue.

Amol Kirtikar meanwhile puts down Waikar’s novice claim. “Even Waikar is fighting his first Lok Sabha polls like me. How can one trust a man who was not able to fight one ED notice and defected from my party which gave his all-lucrative posts,” said Amol. He said ED was just conducting a routine inquiry. “They just questioned me and there was no case filed on me. How can I be called guilty,” said Amol Kirtikar.

The people from the constituency however feel that they are being taken for a ride. “Travelling in the Andheri Jogeshwari belt is a nightmare especially during the peak hours. The politicians are hardly doing anything to solve this issue. The recent Gokhale bridge reconstruction was botched up as they failed to connect to the old adjoining one,” rued Rakesh Khanna, resident of Andheri.

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