Thursday’s results indicate that the Gujarati community’s vote has stayed with the BJP. For the BJP, a three-fold increase in its tally was possible only because it managed to retain its traditional Gujarati voters besides votes of Marathis too. In T ward, which comprises Mulund, a region dominated by the Gujarati and Marwari communities, the BJP managed to sweep all six seats this time. In 2012, the party won four seats in Mulund, with the other two seats going to the MNS and NCP.
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“People of Mulund have chosen development and transparency over corruption. The Gujarati and Marwari communities have retained their faith in the BJP while people who voted for other parties in 2012, too voted for us,” said BJP MP from the region Kirit Somaiya. Of the six seats which the BJP won, one of the seats in ward 108 was won by Somaiya’s son Neel.
In the Mulund-Ghatkopar belt, both the serving MLAs from Ghatkopar are from the BJP while in Mulund, one MLA and an MP belong to the BJP.
In N ward, one of the most anticipated battles was between the richest candidate Parag Shah and Congress’ Pravin Chheda —leader of opposition in BMC and sitting corporator from Ghatkopar — in the Gujarati heartland. While both, from the same community, wooed the same voter base, 16,000 Gujarati voters in the ward plumped for Shah, a first-timer against Chheda, a Congress heavyweight.
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“Ghatkopar and Vidyavihar residents cannot vote for someone who tries to woo them by making fake promises. The candidate must be powerful, people of Ghatkopar voted in favour of me and the Bharatiya Janata Party,” said Parag Shah.
In N ward which encompasses the areas of Vikhroli, Ghatkopar east and West, Vidyavihar, BJP won two seats in what is seen as Gujarati pockets. The one it lost to Chedda after he defected to Congress ahead of 2012 civic polls was captured this time with Shah’s win.
Another Gujarati pocket in Mumbai North comprises mostly middle- and upper-middle class population. There is a sizeable Gujarati, Marwari and North Indian population.
In 2012, when the BJP and the Shiv Sena had a pre-poll pact, the BJP won 15 out of its 31 seats from this region.
The party remains popular in Gujarati-dominated pockets such as Borivali, Kandivli, and Malad. In the 2014 assembly polls, the BJP had even managed to breach Dahisar, a Shiv Sena bastion. In some of the wards in Borivali and Dahisar, the Gujarati voter population almost equals the Marathi-speaking population.
However in R Central ward comprising these areas, BJP managed to retain all five seats which it won in 2012.
Similarly in P north ward (Malad), of the total 18 seats BJP won eight as compared to two last year while Sena managed to get only four seats against six it won in 2012.