Sources said Union Minister for Communications, Information and Technology Milind Deora (Mumbai South), former union minister Gurudas Kamat (Mumbai North West), sitting MPs Priya Dutt (Mumbai North Central), Sanjay Nirupam (Mumbai North) and Eknath Gaikwad (Mumbai South Central) would be fielded again.
The NCP, which contested only one seat in Mumbai in 2009, will also repeat its sitting MP Sanjay Dina Patil.
Sources in the state Congress said, “Some in the party still want to replace senior MP Gaikwad arguing for a new face to take on the challenge posed by the Shiv Sena, which is fielding BMC’s standing committee chairman Rahul Shewale.”
However, the senior Congress leaders argue any move to drop Gaikwad would invite Dalit backlash in the constituency. If at all, they say, Eknath’s daughter Varsha Gaikwad, who is the state’s minister for women and child welfare, could be fielded in his place but that too would mean letting go of the secure Assembly constituency of Dharavi which Varsha currently represents.
The seat-sharing between Shiv Sena and BJP is complete, with both settling on three seats each out of total six Lok Sabha seats. Sena candidates are senior leader Gajanan Kirtikar (Mumbai North West), Arvin Sawant (South) and Rahul Shewale ( South Central).
In the BJP, a formal decision on candidates for three seats will be taken after the February 14-15 meeting of the state election committee. However, at an internal meeting, the party has shortlisted the names of Gopal Shetty (Mumbai North) and Kirit Somiaya (Mumbai North East). The candidate for Mumbai North Central against Congress’s sitting MP Priya Dutt is still being worked out. There is a loud thinking in the party that if BJP should field Mumbai unit chief Ashish Shellar to give a good fight to Dutt.
The other alternative is to see if BJP can forgo this seat to Shiv Sena in exchange for some other seat outside Mumbai. Sources in the BJP said, “In the coming elections, every seat will be crucial and we cannot compromise on candidates who will not be able to give a tough fight to Congress members.”