It’s an interesting situation and a political story full of twists & turns in Mumbai’s prestigious North-East Loksabha Constituency, popularly known as Mumbai NE.
Over the years, during my journalistic career, I have observed many electoral battles in Gujarat and Maharashtra. Election campaigns in these states have usually been massive and well-planned PR exercises across the constituencies. However, 2019 seems to be a different year for the political class. Indeed, for the media too!
In an unexpected move by the BJP’s Central leadership, Mumbai NE’s sitting MP and a highly popular Gujarati political figure, Kirit Somaiya or Kirit BHAI was ‘dropped’ from the list of contenders after ally Shiv Sena’s fierce opposition to his candidature. “Somaiya has unfortunately and unnecessarily been a vocal critic of our Party,” said a senior Shiv Sena politician and a resident of Mumbai NE Constituency. It is interesting to note that Somaiya had accused Uddhav Thackeray of corruption and alleged that the Shiv Sena-controlled BMC was in the grip of a powerful mafia run by a ‘Saheb’ in BANDRA!
Instead; the BJP replaced Somaiya from the Mumbai North-East seat with a municipal Corporator, another Gujarati face and a Mulund-resident, Manoj Kotak. In a statement released to the media, Somaiya states, “I am very happy that Manoj Kotak has got the ticket. We all will support him and ensure he wins.”
However, some BJP workers in the Constituency didn’t accept the ‘change’ happily, “Its BJP Central leadership’s diktat. How come a popular MP having an excellent rapport with the local residents in the Constituency been replaced so easily? BHAI has become the victim of BJP’s internal party-politics,” said a local social worker and a BJP ‘Karyakarta’. Similar sentiment was echoed by another senior BJP politician and also a resident of NE Constituency. He said, “Perhaps, BHAI’s PR within the party was not as strong as it should have been. It’s sad to know he won’t represent Mumbai NE Constituency this time.”
A veteran New-Delhi based political editor however said Somaiya might get a Rajya Sabha nomination and a perhaps a junior berth in the Modi’s Cabinet. “After all, politics is a game of compulsions and compensations. However, Manoj Kotak’s popular image as a hard working young politician will certainly prove beneficial for BJP,” he added.
Speaking over phone, Mumbai NE’s NCP candidate, Sanjay Dina Patil or BHAU as widely known in the Constituency, said, “I am certainly going to win this time with a thumping majority. Mark my words.” A resident of Bhandup, BHAU enjoys immense clout in the Constituency.
Ironically, history reveals that since 1967, Mumbai’s NE Constituency has not elected a same MP for the consecutive second term in India’s Parliament.
This time too, the political tale of BHAI, BHAU and BANDRA has replaced a sitting MP!