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Rush before the hush hour

Some candidates chose to limit their interactions to personal meetings with select groups while others campaigned aggressively with car and bike rallies.

Deora at a road show at Nagpada Tuesday. Ganesh Shirsekar Deora at a road show at Nagpada Tuesday. (IE Photo: Ganesh Shirsekar)

With campaigning for the last phase of polling in Maharashtra drawing to a close Tuesday evening, some candidates in Mumbai’s six Lok Sabha constituencies chose to limit their interactions to personal meetings with select groups and loyal voter bases, while others campaigned aggressively with car and bike rallies in a bid to reach out to maximum number of voters in their constituencies. Newsline takes a look at the different campaigning styles adopted by candidates on the last day.

Milind Deora Congress candidate for Mumbai South

Deora followed the usual mode of a rally, with his open van giving him a tour of different areas. The last day saw him on roads at 8 am in the Machimar colony of Colaba instead of the usual 10 am schedule. Unlike other candidates who preferred to cover a large area in the constituency to reach out to maximum voters, Deora’s campaigning was focused on just three areas – Colaba, Byculla and Mumbadevi – all three traditional Congress pockets. In the 2009 Lok Sabha elections, Deora had garnered maximum votes from these areas, with a huge margin against all contesting candidates. He had received 54,186 votes in Mumbadevi , 50,177 votes in Byculla and 48,167 in Colaba, respectively. Despite having a majority of Congress rallies in Mumbadevi, Deora yet again made a last attempt to woo loyal voters by revisiting the same pockets for nearly five hours (12 noon till 5 pm). Deora’s rally drew an overwhelming response, with supporters surrounding his vehicle the whole day. They were seen either wearing scarves or sporting caps with the Congress symbol on them. The rally proceeded at a snail’s pace with Deora stopping every now and then to accept garlands while residents showered rose petals from their balconies.

— Tabassum Barnagarwala

Gurudas Kamat Congress candidate for Mumbai North West

The sitting MP from Mumbai North West roped in NCP chief Sharad Pawar for his last public appearance, an open meeting held at a ground in BEST Colony in Goregaon West on Tuesday afternoon. Kamat is seeking a sixth Lok Sabha term. Early in the day, he held smaller meetings in his constituency before arriving in Goregaon at 3 pm. Pawar arrived an hour later and asked the crowd to vote for development. “The BMC had done nothing for you. Whenever you think of good roads, and a rail network in Mumbai, only Gurudas Kamat’s name comes to mind,” Pawar said.  Kamat’s aide Sameer Desai said the plan had been to end with a bang. “We have the upper hand because a leader of the stature of Sharad Pawar came for the final rally. He had given his consent five days ago and since then, we had finalised two venues,” he said.  After Azad Maidan in Goregaon was found to have been booked, the Congress went ahead at BEST Colony.  In his final few words, Kamat said he was confident of victory because of his infrastructure record.

— Srinath Rao

Gopal Shetty BJP candidate for Mumbai North

Rather than holding a rally or road show, Shetty met the locals and party workers on the last day of campaigning. Shetty started his day at 8.30 am, meeting visitors at his Borivali office. While some discussed problems they were facing, others pointed out mistakes in their voters ID cards. After assuring them help, at 9 am, Shetty rushed to visit party worker Mohan Bhandari to offer condolence. “Bhandari lost his mother and due to my busy schedule I could not visit him. Hence, I decided to meet him on Tuesday,” Shetty said. At 9.30 Shetty returned to his office to sign the forms given to him by the polling agent. At 11 am, he met a group of around 200 people, including owners and workers of tabelas in Borivali east. The owners apprised Shetty about various problems they are facing with the civic body.  After this, Shetty reached the Raidongri area of Borivali, where he was invited by locals to felicitate him.  After the hectic first half, Shetty went to his friend’s house at Sai Baba Nagar in Borivali (West) to have lunch and rest for a while.  At 2.30 pm, Shetty and some party workers headed for BJP’s district in Kandivali (West) office for a core committee meeting for strategy planning.  The meeting, attended by the district and taluka heads and other senior party workers, went on till 4.30 pm, following which Shetty headed home. “I participated and organised many rallies throughout this month, and even before that. At least today, when I have got a little time, I can meet my people and listen to their issues and grievances,” Shetty told group of party workers.

— Dipti Singh

Kirit Somaiya BJP candidate for  Mumbai North East

Somaiya addressed supporters at a public meeting in Mulund, asking them to urge at least a 100 people each to come out and vote on April 24 to help BJP win. “I request you all to urge at least 100 people each, via SMS, WhatsApp or by word of mouth to go out and vote. I am sure if people come out and vote in large numbers, BJP will definitely win,” he said. The 60-year-old leader first spent two hours in the morning at Vikhroli railway station and then led the last and final rally across his constituency. As the rally came to an end, Somaiya was torn between attending BJP leader Gopinath Munde’s address at Mankhurd and Shiv Sena president Uddhav Thackeray’s address at Amrut Nagar in Ghatkopar, with their timings clashing. “My attempt is to bring party leaders of BJP, Shiv Sena and RPI together at Amrut Nagar for a combined address to mark the end of our campaign in Maharashtra,” Somaiya said as he continued to work out ways of ensuring his presence in both speeches held towards the end of the campaigning day.  Ultimately, however, Somaiya attended Thackeray’s address.

— Priyal Dave

Priya Dutt Congress candidate for Mumbai North Central

She spent most part of the day motivating her party cadres. Dutt held low-key interactions with select groups of voters in building premises as well as party workers throughout her constituency on Tuesday. Moving through Kurla, Chandivali, Kalina, Vile Parle and Bandra, she held spot meetings with workers and voters at 18 places, three in each Assembly segment in North Central. Dutt also took stock of the distribution of voter ID cards in different areas and ensured availability of facilities for polling agents on April 24, besides giving them pep talks and thanking them for their efforts during the past month of campaigning.  “I had done everything from padyatras to rallies and meetings in the past month. On the last day, I wanted to spend time with my party cadres and motivate them instead of making them walk around for one big rally in this gruelling heat,” said Dutt, who kept making phone calls to all office-bearers in each area from the constituency. “The party workers and their efforts are usually forgotten. Today was more about giving them time, as well as those groups of voters who had insisted on meeting me.” Dutt urged voters to come out and vote and stressed the importance of this election.  Speaking about her plans in the run-up to polling, Dutt said although she would love some spa treatment, she would much rather spend all her time with her family, especially her children. A hundred phone calls to important leaders and workers in her constituency later, a relaxed last day of campaigning ended with Dutt reaching home by 7.30 pm, the earliest in over a month.

— Anjali Lukose

Rahul Shewale Shiv Sena candidate for  Mumbai South Central

Shewale started his day much earlier than usual. At 6.30 am, he was out of his house, smiling at people, waving to onlookers and campaigning till time ran out. Early morning, Shewale, who is contesting Lok Sabha elections for the first time, visited Shivaji Park and Dadar Hindu Colony to interact with senior citizens’ clubs and morning walkers. Next, he visited the suburban railway stations of Mankhurd and Wadala to campaign among the morning commuters. “We have decided to go all out today. While we have a rally around all six Assembly constituencies in Mumbai South Central, we are sending small teams of party volunteers to go door-to-door and urge people to vote,” Shewale said. His final rally started around 12.30 pm from Parel, with a kilometre-long procession of bikes and cars snaking through Parel, Wadala, Dharavi, Mahim, Dadar, Prabhadevi, Sion and Chembur. RPI chief Ramdas Athavale accompanied Shewale on certain stretches. The campaign was coloured with blue and saffron flags of Shiv Sena as well as BJP, so much so that a constable on duty joked, “It’s difficult to figure out if the candidate is from BJP or Shiv Sena.” With long string of crackers at the beginning of the rally, a booming loudspeaker in tow and chants shared equally by the Shiv Sena, BJP and RPI, Shewale stood in a truck painted saffron and waved to people, seeking votes with folded hands one last time before Mumbai goes to polls.

—  Manasi Phadke

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