Jittery candidates have fingers crossed

According to Ahir, the Shiv Sena had been scaring away his voters.

Mumbai | Published:October 16, 2014 3:46 am

‘I will make Borivali a model suburb’

Wearing a pink nehru jacket over a white shirt, Vinod Tawde, Bhartiya Janta Partya candidate from Borivali,  looked dressed for the occasion as he walked in at 7.45 am at Vile Parle municipal school to cast his vote.

Tawde, a resident of Vile Parle, was accompanied by his wife Varsha. Even with media persons jostling around, he said that this has been the most daunting week, and the last few hours will actually decide the results as the voter turnout keeps increasing. Once inside his car, after casting his vote he was sure that he needed a break. “I shall take rest tomorrow,” he said, as he spoke of his week ahead. Speaking only of plans on how to cleberate victory, he kept repeating his first project, of making Borivali a model suburb. “We have a plan and we will try to push for it, starting with opening the waterways from Gorai creek,” he explained even as he kept taking calls from his cadre.

Reaching the deserted BJP office in Kora Kendra in Borivali west, Tawde got his party workers to their feet to urge the people to come out and vote, “Borivali has a large voter turnout in favour of the BJP and i am confident enough that we would win,” said Tawde. After minutes Tawde left and made rounds of the major polling booths in Borivali. Confident of his win in the North Constituency Tawde then at 1 pm left for the neighbouring constituencies to support the BJP candidates.
— Megha Sood

‘People had to be called out of their homes to vote’

While his confident strides in the narrow cluttered lanes of Mumbadevi reflected an assured victory, Congress’ sitting MLA Amin Patel’s forehead creased every now and then when he had to urge voters to come out and vote. “The turnout in this pocket is low. People have to be called out from their houses to make that extra effort to vote,” he said while making a routine round at Nagpada Municipal school where the polling booths were almost empty.

It was 1.00 pm and Patel had just cast his vote at Byculla’s St Mary High School (which was marked by its absence of queues of voters). As he walked through a congested lane in Nagpada, clad in a white churidaar and off-white silk kurta, people stopped mid-way to congratulate him.
“Bhai aap hi jeetoge. Meri puri family ne aapko vote diya,” were the eager introductory statements of many.

Patel had a network of volunteers working in every lane, with reports coming in about the mood just a call away. “The voting pattern looks good,” his men on field reported to him.

Shabbir Aneez, resident of Nagpada, said, “There is no doubt that Congress has a good chance to win. Amin bhai has done a lot of work for people.”

Patel is one of the 18 candidates contesting from Mumbadevi. In a six-cornered fight, he is pitted against BJP’s Atul Shah, NCP’s Huzefa Electricwala, MIM’s Shahid Rafi, Shiv Sena’s Yugandhara Salekar and MNS’ Imtiaz Anees. However, he is fairly confident he will win despite an anti-incumbency wave throttling the Congress post Lok Sabha elections.

During his inspection of various polling stations, Patel kept helping voters who faced problems with identification cards. On one occasion he stood at the entrance of a polling station to check whether the voters could get through smoothly. On streets, his first dialogue was an invariable: “Vote diya?”, followed by a request to defaulters to vote. “Take your family too,” he added every now and then. In Mumbadevi, everyone recognised Amin Patel and he recognised them back on first name basis. Perhaps this is the reason why the Congress candidate forecasts a clear win.
— Tabassum Barnagarwala     

‘The fight is clearly between me and Shiv Sena’

Between mouthfuls of chicken biryani, Worli MLA Sachin Ahir said, “Aamcha voter utarla pahije Shivaji (addressing Shivaji Kale, an NCP party worker).” It was just past 2 pm inside Ahir’s office at Jamboree Maidan in Worli’s BDD Chawl and only he had a plate in front of him while those gathered recited vote percentages from different booths.

Where Ahir was relaxed in his rounds in the constituency pre-lunch, walking considerable distance on foot in each pocket, post 2 pm, however, he rushed from locality to locality, stepping only to visit the sprawling BDD chawls and other slum colonies.

Walavalkar had been charged with spotting and stopping at NCP tables, and on the occasion that he failed to do so, Ahir was mildly irritated. The questions at each table were the same. “Are people coming down to vote for me?” But so were the replies – “Vyavasthit chalat aahe. Aapan kashala utarla? Aamhi aahe na bhau? (It’s all going well. Why did you bother to come down. We will handle it).”

Every two hours though, as reports of voter turnout were declared and the smiles at tables only grew wider, Ahir said, “Sarva sangta vyavasthit challa aahe. Pan kiti vyavasthit challa aahe he mala kasa maahit padnar? (Everyone keeps saying things are going well. How do I know how many people are voting for me?).”

After lunch, Ahir spent an hour walking around BDD chawl, where his micro-managers took him round to each table. Ahir was shown voter figures at each table, but strode briskly away with a smile and a namaste.

Back in the car, he seemed to lose his cool when his brother, BMC corporator Sunil Ahir from Mahalaxmi’s Dhobi Ghat, did not answer his phone amidst reports of voter intimidation in that area. When the call did finally go through, Ahir let loose. “Why aren’t you answering the phone? Is the problem solved? Then why didn’t you tell me? They have disturbed our main pockets while you just sat around,” he said.

According to Ahir, the Shiv Sena had been scaring away his voters.

At 4.30 pm, for the first time all day, Ahir told party workers at a table in BDD Chawl Number 10 to raise their percentage. From then, he stayed mostly inside his car, stopping at tables for a few seconds, before speeding off again.

When voting finally ended, Ahir said that he would decide later in the day, how the voter turnout would affect him. “I still do not know which areas have not voted for me. The fight is clearly between me and the Shiv Sena. I have worked for fifteen days and will accept whatever the result is. But first, I’m going to take a sleeping pill and switch off my phone. I haven’t slept and my body is stressed out,” he said.
Srinath Rao

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