Many roads in the city led to the offices of the City and Suburban Collector with candidates across parties filing their nominations on Monday.
With a dash of Bollywood, a procession with cartoon character mascots and proposers making political statements, the battle lines were drawn and the stage set for the contest at six parliamentary seats in Mumbai and one each in Thane, Kalyan and Bhiwandi, ahead of the Lok Sabha elections.
Three Congress candidates filed their nominations at the office of the District Collector (Suburban) in Bandra (East), where supporters wearing face masks chanted Chowkidar chor hai, waving party flags and beating drums. Apart from this, BJP candidate from Mumbai North East Manoj Kotak and Shiv Sena MP Arvind Sawant and Congress city chief Milind Deora also filed their nominations on Monday.
The first to reach the suburban collector’s office was Priya Dutt flanked by her husband Owen Roncon. Within minutes, her brother Sanjay Dutt joined her along with Congress leaders Kripashankar Singh and Baba Siddiqui. A crowd of over 200 party workers had to be stopped by police, when they tried entering the 100-metre radius on seeing the brother-sister duo. Some women were spotted sporting masks bearing Priya Dutt’s face. Dutt said, “Har chunaav ek chunauti hai (Every election is a challenge)”.
Asked if he will contribute to his sister’s campaign strategy, Sanjay Dutt said, “Main strategy wala aadmi nahin hoon, dil wala aadmi hoon… har cheez dil se karta hoon… har bhai chahega uski behen jeete (I am not someone who is good at strategy. Whatever I do is from the heart… every brother will wish for his sister to win)”.
Soon there was a roar as two motorcycles zoomed in outside the collector’s office. On one bike was former Congress city chief Sanjay Nirupam, the candidate from Mumbai North West, while on the other was actor-turned-politician Urmila Matondkar, riding pillion behind her husband Mohsin Akhtar Mir.
Matondkar, who is contesting from Mumbai North, was wearing a pheta (turban) and tika. Congress MLA Aslam Shaikh said there was a lot of traffic on the road from Bandra MIG Club, and travelling on a bike gave them a chance to interact with supporters.
After filing her nomination, Urmila said, “I am excited and happy… if people support me, I will win.” Nirupam, who was the last of the three Congress candidates to file his nomination, said, “I am confident of a victory. It is my home constituency and I have served the people. I have been accessible and approachable unlike my opponent Gajanan Kirtikar, the sitting MP. While he has been inactive, I am hyperactive.”
The BJP candidate from North East constituency, Manoj Kotak, who replaced sitting MP Kirit Somaiya, filed his nomination at the Mulund Election Commission office. He was accompanied by senior BJP leader Vinod Tawde, Kirit Somaiya and supporters who had gathered outside Ambaji Dham temple on M G Road in Mulund (West).
Congress city chief and the party’s candidate from Mumbai South, Milind Deora and Shiv Sena MP Arvind Sawant also filed their nominations in the city collector’s office. To avoid any risk of rejection, Deora filed four nominations. He has chosen an unemployed youth, a housewife of a mill worker, a young entrepreneur and a small-time businessman as proposers for highlighting Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led government’s alleged failure to fulfil promises. “The government had promised to create jobs, houses for poor, opportunities for start-ups and growth in business. But nothing happened in the last five years,” Deora said.
Sawant was accompanied by Yuva Sena chief Aaditya Thackeray and minister Subhash Desai for his nomination. There was a massive crowd outside the collector’s office, which slowed down traffic for hours. A candidate from Bahujan Vanchit Aghadi (BVA), Dr Sanjay Bhosale, arrived at the collector’s office on a buggy to file his nomination.
Senior-most Congress MP Eknath Gaikwad filed his nomination at 2 pm at Old Customs Office, Fort. Gaikwad alleged the government did not believe in parliamentary democracy. “They wanted to bring in dictatorship. Now people understand their intentions, and will pull them down,” he said.
Five candidates submitted nominations for Kalyan Lok Sabha constituency, including NCP candidate Babaji Patil. Shiv Sena and NCP candidates for Thane also filed their nominations, arriving at the collector’s office in decorated open-top jeeps and trucks. The BJP candidate from Bhiwandi, Kapil Patil, also filed his nomination in Bhiwandi zonal office.
In Bhiwandi, Kapil Patil’s convoy, which had his family members and supporters sitting atop a decorated truck, started from the Shivaji Chowk and went up to the zonal office, blocking the roads completely. While police tried managing the crowd, the traffic came to a standstill. It was a similar sight at the Thane collector’s office as supporters jostled for space on the road in front of the office. While Thane MP Rajan Vichare arrived decked with flowers and atop an open-top vehicle, another Thane contender Anand Paranjape arrived in a similar fashion decked in the colours of the NCP. Jitendra Awhad and other leaders accompanied Paranjape to file his nomination.
Gaikwad’s assets see spike of 797 per cent from 2014
Mumbai: Congress candidate from Mumbai South Central, Eknath Gaikwad, on Monday declared total assets worth Rs 21.89 crore — a 797 per cent rise from his assets declared in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls. In 2014, he had declared assets worth Rs 2.44 crore. In Monday’s affidavit, Gaikwad declared total assets worth Rs 22.89 crore. The spike is primarily because of a plot purchased in 2014. Gaikwad had purchased a commercial plot measuring 60,000 sq ft in Bhiwandi in December 2014 for Rs 3 crore and spent Rs 1.20 crore for the construction on the plot of 50,000 sq ft area. The current market price of the plot has been shown as Rs 17.50 crore.