After each counting round concluded in Versova assembly on Thursday, the leading candidate would be different. Between BJP’s incumbent MLA Bharati Lavekar, Congress’ Baldev Khosa and Shiv Sena rebel candidate Rajul Patel, the contest was close enough to confuse supporters whether or not to bring out their stock of firecrackers. It was Lavekar who eventually emerged victorious but with a poorer winning margin than 2014.
Rebels gave sitting MLAs a tough fight in two of Mumbai’s Northwest seats. In Andheri East too, rebel candidate Murji Patel was in a close contest with Sena’s sitting MLA Ramesh Latke. Latke eventually took lead, winning with a margin of 16,965 votes. Congress came third with 27,951 votes.
Analysis of voting trend in Versova indicated that the slum population voted for Patel, known for her groundwork as corporator, and Muslims voted for Congress in large numbers. Lavekar took lead from upscale areas of Lokhandwala and Versova where residential societies came out in her support.
Her vote share, however, dipped from 41.9 per cent in 2014 to 33.9 per cent this time. Both Khosa and Patel ate into her votes. While Lavekar got 41,057 votes, Khosa’s vote share grew from 22,784 in 2014 to 35,871. Patel trailed close with 32,706 votes.
Versova, with 1.2 lakh voter turnout this time, had been a Congress bastion until 2014 when BJP swept this seat along with adjoining seats in Mumbai Northwest. While Goregaon and Andheri West saw huge winning margins for BJP with minister Vidya Thakur winning with a 48,907 margin and Ameet Satam with a margin of 18,962 respectively, Versova has shown a reversal trend. Lavekar scrapped through with a lead of just 5,186 votes.
“Last time MNS got 14,508 votes, this time it fell to 5,037. Those votes have gone to Patel who enjoyed local Sena cadre’s support,” a party worker of Patel said. Patel was leading in first few rounds of counting with a comfortable margin. Halfway through Congress took lead, with several Muslim votes returning in its fold from Behrambaug, Gulshan Nagar and Qureshi Nagar. BJP took lead when counting of Lokhandwala and Versova began, where affluent section chose the saffron alliance.
Rajul Patel said she contested elections because people were fed up with Lavekar. “I was hopeful of taking a lead. I was getting internal support from various other political outfits,” she said.
Lavekar was also facing stiff resistance from within BJP ranks which dented her vote share. “ Now that I have been re-elected, there is pending development work that I want to get completed. I want to make ‘Smart Versova’,” said Lavekar.
Meanwhile, in Andheri East, BJP rebel and corporator Murji Patel said he garnered votes from across constituency. He cut into Congress votes, which swung as former minister Suresh Shetty refused to contest and Congress propped Jagdish Amin to replace Shetty. Patel got 45,808 votes, while Congress share fell from 37,929 to 27,951 votes.
Amin faced a fund crunch, had limited reach and was not known amongst voters.
Sena candidate Katkar enjoyed coalition support, and his vote share grew from 52,817 to 62,773 votes.