INTENSE contests are shaping up in a handful of wards with sitting corporators facing off against one another with the city’s electoral ward boundaries redrawn this year. With less than two weeks to polling day, these contests appear set for a close finish. Prominent among these is Ward 60 in Lokhandwala Complex, Andheri (West), where senior Shiv Sena leader and outgoing Standing Committee chairperson Yashodhar Phanse is pitted against senior Congress corporator Jyotsna Dighe. Phanse currently represents Ward 56 (Versova), now reserved for ST (women) candidates, while Dighe is the sitting corporator of Ward 55 (Swami Samantha Nagar).
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With former Congress Member of Parliament Gurudas Kamat now backing her election campaign, Dighe says she is confident of winning even though she is an outsider in Ward 60, as is Phanse. “A part of Ward 60 is the area from my ward where I have worked for the past five years on various civic issues. Since I was the ward committee chairman of K West for one year, people in areas such as Adarsh Nagar, who have now been included in Ward 60, also know me and have assured me of their support,” she said.
Phanse was unavailable for comment but his supporters said a large posse of Sainiks is campaigning hard for the senior leader in the high-profile ward. Similarly, in Ward 11 in Borivali, two sitting corporators have switched parties and are now contesting against each other. Prakash Darekar, a former MNS corporator from Ward 5 (Ashokvan, Chintamani Nagar), is now a BJP candidate while his opponent, Riddhi Khursange, previously an NCP corporator in Ward 10 (Daulat Nagar), will contest on a Shiv Sena ticket.
Khursange said that the new ward, post delimitation, has retained a significant portion of her current ward and her chances of winning are looking good. “A corporator has to be known among the local residents and that is more important than the political party a candidate is representing. My work speaks for itself,” she said. In the eastern suburbs, Anisha Majgaonkar, sitting MNS corporator from Ward 107 (Nardas Nagar), and Sena corporator Ramesh Korgaonkar of Ward 106 (Tembhipada) are gearing up to contest in Ward 114 in Bhandup’s Anand Nagar. Korgaonkar said he was a former corporator of the Bhandup ward earlier and so has a support base in the locality. “The majority of the area is occupied by slums and no corporator can bring about change without developing the area occupied by slums. I will ensure that SRA projects are taken up in the area which can effectively give way to other amenities such as gardens and removal of bottlenecks along the roads,” he said.
On her part, Majgaonkar stated that in the past five years, she has rebuilt a dilapidated dispensary, procured approvals for a super specialty hospital in the area and has overseen repairs to several roads in the area. Kurla will witness a fight between worthy opponents in Ward 168, where NCP has fielded Saida Khan, who is the corporator of Ward 161 (Shikshak Nagar) against Shiv Sena’s Anuradha Pednekar, the corporator of Ward 162 (Nehru Nagar).
Both women have been vocal on issues concerning health and education.
Pitching herself as the better candidate, Khan stated that even though Pednekar was heading the health committee, she failed to pay adequate attention to the Kurla Bhabha Hospital which doesn’t offer even the basic services of a primary health care centre. Bhabha Hospital is located in Ward 162.
“As an allopathic doctor, my priority is improving the standard of healthcare services across the city,” she said.