Six out of every 10 voters in Mumbai voted for “Team Modi” ensuring a clean sweep for the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) for a second consecutive term in the country’s financial capital.
According to data released by the Election Commission of India, candidates put up by the saffron allies on the six seats of Mumbai collectively polled more than 58.21 per cent (3,033,993 votes) of the total 5,211,432 votes cast in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, bettering its performance from the 2014 polls, when the BJP-Shiv Sena’s vote share stood at 56.11 per cent.
For the Congress, Thursday’s drubbing is its fifth consecutive defeat in the city, where it was founded. The party hasn’t won a single election here since the 2009 Assembly polls. It has now lost two back-to-back Lok Sabha polls, one Assembly poll, and two civic elections.
With the state polls barely five months away, former Maharashtra minister and sitting Congress legislator Naseem Khan admitted that the grand old party has an uphill task in trying to revive the party’s fortunes.
“The results are shocking. We ran a campaign on issues, but it seems that people have voted on emotive issues. We will review the outcome,” Khan said.
As of now, the Congress has a hold over just four of the 36 Assemblies in the city. Sources said intense factionalism and infighting within the party had hit the party’s Lok Sabha poll campaign. The party had opted for a change of guard in Mumbai — replacing Sanjay Nirupam with Milind Deora as the Mumbai Congress president. Both Nirupam and Deora lost from their seats.
In a statement issued after the loss, Deora said, “In the days and months to come, we’ll strive to become a constructive yet uncompromising Opposition.”
In 2009 Lok Sabha polls, the Congress alone had secured 35 per cent of the total votes. Its alliance had won all the six seats that time, benefitting from a split engineered by Raj Thackeray’s Maharashtra Navnirman Sena in the Marathi vote.
While Raj Thackeray did not field any candidate this time, the Opposition was hoping to piggyback on him to dent the saffron combine’s support base among Marathis. But while Raj’s anti-Modi rallies had been the highlight of the Opposition’s campaign, senior Congress and NCP leaders said the voting percentages of the NDA suggested that an overwhelming majority of Marathi-speaking voters, too, had connected with ‘Modi for PM’ campaign.
According to political analysts, the voting trend also rings an alarm bell for Raj himself as he looks to revive his party’s fortunes ahead of the Vidhan Sabha polls. While the Congress appeared to have somewhat consolidated its position among the Dalits and the Muslims, the Modi-factor has left a major dent among its traditionally loyal north Indian votebank, yet again. The Congress’s promise of bigger slum rehab homes also failed to connect with the masses. Every second resident in Mumbai city lives in a slum.
In Mumbai North and North East constituencies, where the Gujarati, Marwari and Marathi voters hold considerable clout, the BJP candidates recorded landslide wins. In Mumbai North, Gopal Shetty (BJP) polled nearly 71.46 per cent of the votes defeating Congress’s Urmila Matondkar by a record margin of over 4.65 lakh votes. Similarly, in Mumbai’s North East, Manoj Kotak’s vote share was 56.61 per cent.
Even in Mumbai North Central constituency, which was considered the strongest Congress bastion in the city with pockets dominated by minorities, every second voter opted for BJP’s Poonam Mahajan. In Mumbai South Central, which has a sizeable population of Dalit and minority votes, Shiv Sena’s Rahul Shewale trumped Congress candidate Eknath Gaikwad, eventually winning the election by over 1.52 lakh votes.