TRAILED by an entourage of party workers, Congress MLA Amin Patel accompanied the party’s candidate, Javed Juneja, for Ward 213 in his door-to-door campaign. In their simple approach of personalised visits to each household, Patel, MLA from the Mumbadevi constituency, and sitting corporator Juneja spent Tuesday morning visiting residents living in Kamathipura’s cheek-by-jowl buildings.
In Vikas Darshan building on 12th lane, the residents belong to various communities including Telugu, Maharashtrian and Gujarati. Striking up conversation with each one, Patel greeted them and spoke to them in their native tongue. As he asked the families who they plan to vote for, the response was mostly “haath ka panja” (the hand). To reiterate his message, a large number of local residents who are also party workers chanted a steady stream of slogans: “Amin Patel, aage badho. Hum tumhare saath hain.” (Amin Patel take the lead. We are with you).
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Like 81-year-old Kalavati Krishnamurthy Pise, many residents of the building are loyal supporters of the Congress. Patel assured them that like in the past, he would continue to help them. Promising to help with the redevelopment of dilapidated buildings in the area, Patel said, “Unlike other politicians, I am always available and Juneja, our candidate, will come back to help all of you as well with your continued support,” he said. Many of the residents stated that Patel had helped carry out repairs in their building and had resolved a long-standing issue of insufficient water supply.
Apart from speaking to the elderly members of the families, Patel stopped at almost all the houses to interact with young children or teenagers in the family stressing on the importance of completing higher education. Among them were some first-time voters, including Prasad Allakonda, 21. “My family has always voted for the hand and I will do so this time,” he said.
Meanwhile, Juneja promised to replicate the work he had taken up in his existing Ward 223, which includes Musafirkhana and Victoria Docks. “Many of the civic issues of Kamathipura are similar to the problems I have resolved in my current ward. Apart from the issue of redevelopment of buildings, there are complaints of water contamination, poor waste management and poor condition of civic schools. With your blessings, I will work just as hard in this ward as well,” he said.
Despite being an experienced corporator, Juneja will face a challenge from former Congressman Nizamuddin Rayeen’s son Mohammad Noman Rayeen who is contesting on an MIM ticket. Rayeen, former minority cell president of the Congress, quit the Congress just last month.
Apart from the traditional Congress supporters, there were also a few who are not too happy with the Congress’s work in the area and had higher expectations from the next corporator. “They had solved our water problems but there are many other problems that affect us on a daily basis. As our elected representative, they should give more attention to them and visit the area more often than they do now,” said Anusuya Vallakati, 35.
While Patel is a well-known face in the area, many know Juneja too. He had campaigned alongside Patel during the Assembly elections in 2014. “I am well-versed with the problems of this area and people identify me with Patel bhai. Before I became the corporator for Ward 223, I had worked in this area too, so people here know me,” he said.