March 8, 2009 4:39:30 am
The Samajwadi Partys (SP) move to field its Maharashtra and Mumbai president Abu Asim Azmi in the Mumbai North West constituency for the Lok Sabha elections may queer the pitch for the Congress in Mumbai.
Azmi,whose candidature was announced by SP general secretary Amar Singh,has begun campaigning in right earnest and even got actor and SP Rajya Sabha MP Jaya Prada as well as actor and party nominee for Lucknow seat Sanjay Dutt for the opening of his office in Andheri (East).
The constituency,newly created following the delimitation exercise,comprises Jogeshwari East,Dindoshi,Goregaon,Versova,Andheri West and Andheri East and has a mix of Maharashtrian and non-Maharashtrian voters.
The SP,which has sought three seats from the Congress-NCP combine in Maharashtra,has expressed its willingness to settle for North West Mumbai in the negotiations. In case the alliance does not materialise,the SP has threatened to contest the seat on its own and also to join hands with smaller political formations like the various RPI factions to contest more seats in Maharashtra.
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However,the Congress has a number of candidates for the North West seat and they include Mumbai Congress president and Santacruz MLA Kripashankar Singh,former Rajya Sabha MP Sanjay Nirupam,minister of state and Andheri MLA Suresh Shetty and Amboli MLA Baldeo Khosa.
Azmis candidature,may,however queer the pitch for the Congress considering the substantial Muslim pockets in the constituency.
The SP office-bearers said around 15 per cent of the 15 lakh-odd voters in the North West constituency belonged to the minority community and hoped that the North Indian voters will be swayed by Azmis vociferous espousal of their cause after the Raj Thackeray-led Maharashtra Navanirman Sena (MNS) launched its anti-outsider campaign.
The SP also needs to show its presence in the state,where it has seen its flock dwindle over the years after it was poached upon by the Congress and the NCP. In the 2004 Assembly polls,Azmi,then a Rajya Sabha MP from Uttar Pradesh,had lost the elections in Muslim-dominated Bhiwandi against the Senas Yogesh Patil.
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