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South Mumbai Lok Sabha seat to witness a Shiv Sena vs Shiv Sena slugfest

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Mumbai: The South Mumbai Lok Sabha constituency which is home to some of the top industrialists, the South Mumbai business district, Mantralaya (seat of power), major wholesale markets along with dense Muslim pockets coupled with Maharashtrian dominated mill lands is witnessing a tough fight between the two Shiv Sena factions.

While the Shiv Sena UBT faction (SS-UBT) has fielded former Union Minister Arvind Sawant who is aiming for a Hatrick, the ruling Mahayuti alliance has chosen Byculla legislator Yamini Jadhav who is the better half of popular Sena leader Yeshwant Jadhav.

The major part of the campaign focuses on the emotional issue… the split in the Shiv Sena….The Sena UBT harps on the betrayal of Uddhav Thackeray by Chief Minister Eknath Shinde and seeks revenge through the ballot. The Shiv Sena led by Shinde focuses on the Modi factor saying it was necessary to give a third term to PM Modi and says that it was Uddhav Thackeray who betrayed the values enshrined by Sena founder Balasaheb Thackeray by aligning with the Congress party in 2019.

Sitting MP Arvind Sawant affirms he is confident of victory. “Mumbaikars have an emotional attachment to the Thackeray family and will show the traitors their place. Uddhavsaheb did commendable work during the Covid-19 crises and this was appreciated across the nation and abroad. This will work in our favour,” remarked Sawant.

Yamini Jadhav however claimed that she represents the real Shiv Sena. “We have been partnering with the BJP for decades and it is our natural alliance which was founded by the late Balasaheb Thackeray. It was Uddhavsaheb who strayed away and we rectified the situation. We are the real Shiv Sena,” claimed Yamini Jadhav. Chief Minister Eknath Shinde held a rally at Worli on Tuesday at the historic Jamboree Maidan in support of Yamini Jadhav.

Arvind Sawant who started off as union leader in Shiv Sena enjoys the advantage of first mover as he had covered more than half the constituency while the ruling alliance was still debating its candidate. 

There was huge drama when top BJP leaders like state ministers like Mangal Prabhat Lodha and Maharashtra assembly speaker Rahul Narvekar were lobbying hard trying to secure the nomination and even informally started their campaign. From the Shiv Sena (Shinde) side, former union minister Milind Deora also expressed his desire to contest from the seat.

However, it was Yamini Jadhav who emerged as a dark horse and became the candidate. However, the BJP top brass has swung into action and has instructed both the leaders to launch a full pledged campaign to ensure Yamini’s victory.

Another factor which is impacting the campaign is there is approximately 20 % Muslims in this constituency who are solidly rallying behind Sawant. “Prime Minister Modi is running a sinister campaign against us and targeting us very strongly. For years, we hardly took part in any elections but this time it is different and we are solidly standing behind Uddhav Thackeray this time,” said Naved Khan, a Nagpada resident. 

Shiv Sena UBT leader Aaditya Thackeray while addressing a rally in support of Sawant raked up the issue of Bilkis Bano and discrimination done to the Muslim community by the central government which drew huge applause from the audience.  
Currently both the candidates are criss-crossing the old dilapidated buildings dotted across this constituency promising them revamp at the earliest. Another major promise is jobs for the unemployed youths and better quality of life for the residents.
Yatin Jani who lives in a chawl located in Mumbai Port Trust (MPT) land in Sewri is angry at politicians that this premises cannot be developed as the Central Government does not have a revamp policy.

“Our chawl is on its last legs and can collapse anytime. We are forced to live risking our lives as we have no other alternative. The MPT says they cannot do anything. We have been following with all our MPs from decades to solve this issue but to no avail,” said Jani. Similar is the case with BDD chawls which are located in four locations in Mumbai….Lower Parel, Naigaon, Worli and Sewri. The work has started in all places except Sewri as it is located in MPT jurisdiction. 

Sawant who was the Heavy Industries Minister under Modi said it was a useless ministry. “I was just a dummy and I had no power at all. Things will not improve till the BJP led Government is removed,” added Sawant. He said he has been writing multiple letters on issues like revamp policy on central government land, labour issues as well as revival of MTNL but it was brushed under the carpet.

In contrast Yamini Jadhav calls Arvind Sawant a failure as a Lok Sabha MP. “He has hardly done anything for South Mumbai. In contrast we Jadhav’s have an excellent record for public service and this will ensure my victory. My husband was the Standing Committee Chairman in the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) for years and did commendable work for Mumbai city. We are known all across,” claimed Yamini Jadhav.

South Mumbai has six assembly constituencies.  The BJP also has two legislators Maharashtra Legislative Assembly, Speaker, Rahul Narwekar represents Colaba assembly constituency and minister Mangal Prabhat Lodha, Malabar Hill assembly constituency. Yamini Jadhav represents the Shinde Sena from Byculla assembly constituency, while the adjoining Mumbadevi is represented by Congress MLA Amin Patel. The remaining two assembly seats are held by UBT Sena leaders Aaditya Thackeray from Worli and Ajay Chaudhry of Sewri.

Ironically Yamini and her husband Yeshwant Jadhav were previously accused by its current alliance partner BJP of large-scale corruption in the BMC. The result was both the Income Tax (IT) and Enforcement Directorate (ED) started their high-profile probe against them. However, things slowed down after the couple aligned with Shinde Sena.

Yamini Jadhav accuses SS-UBT chief Uddhav Thackeray of letting them down. “We did not get their moral support during our ordeal,” she rued. Yamini Jadhav said that the IT and ED probe was just blown out of proportion. “It was a media trial and there was hardly any action. There was no substance at all,” she added.  

Tanaji Patil, a 74-year-old Worli resident and a retired textile mill worker points to the tall high rises which have come up in his workplace. “Our children don’t have proper jobs and all these politicians do is fight among themselves. No one cares about us who built his city. The whole area has undergone a sea change while we remain impoverished in our old buildings,” rued Tanaji Patil.   

Naresh Kamath
Naresh Kamath
Naresh Kamath is a senior Journalist based in Mumbai who has spent two decades in this field. He specialises in Real Estate, Hospitality and Political beats. He has worked in reputed newspapers like Hindustan Times and Free Press Journal.

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