Nandini Gupta does not remember the last time an assembly or parliamentary candidate trekked up the hill to ask residents of New Rahul Nagar in Mulund for votes. The 30-year-old is among the 3,000 voters from the area who have decided not to step out to vote when Mumbai elects its six parliamentarians on April 29.
With an open drain running right outside her house, Gupta claimed she was forced to shift her one-year-old son to her mother’s house in Boisar, after he frequently fell ill. “Our demand to cover the drains has fallen on deaf ears all these years,” she said.
Two months ago, the residents of New Rahul Nagar had approached their MLA Sardar Tara Singh to install lids on the drains as their children have been frequently falling ill. “A day after we complained, their representative came and checked. He claimed they would start work the next day, but it’s been two months, none of them have even dropped by,” said Ashwini Santosh Wankhede, a mother to three children. She added, “Every fortnight I have to queue up outside a doctor’s clinic for my children’s check-up. It is that frequent that people fall ill in this area.”
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The residents said that if the candidates don’t come, how will they understand the condition in which people live at the hilly area. “Their rallies are only limited to the roads and people living in classy areas. They come in cars and cross the lane, they don’t even get down their chauffeur-driven, air-conditioned cars and enter the gullies in which the poor stay,” said 73-year-old Bhikaranga Misal.
The residents claimed they won’t turn out to vote if by April 29, they do not see any efforts being taken to resolve their issues. “We even handed a letter to sitting MP Kirit Somaiya five months ago. He promised he will solve our problem but no one came. So why should we vote,” asked Noor Jahan Shaikh, a resident.
Varsha Nagar at Parksite, Vikhroli (West), is another area in the North East constituency where voters are angry. They get just 30 minutes of water supply. More than 12,000 residents have to make do with 14 common toilets.
The residents are furious that candidates fail to visit the area but send party workers door to door. “What I fail to understand is, despite the party workers knowing about the problems, they won’t take it forward,” said Manoj Tiwari, a resident of Varsha Nagar.
In the last five years, they said that they don’t remember whether Somaiya ever visited their area.
Meanwhile, residents of Ramji Nagar in Ghatkopar claimed they have only seen candidates contesting for corporation elections.
Kalpesh Shelar, a resident, said, “I have never seen an MP or MLA in our area. Only candidates contesting BMC elections come for votes. We know that if we go to them requesting repairs in our area, it will fall on deaf ears. If they came at least during the elections, we could have told them about our problems of water supply, playground and drainage issue.”
When contacted, Manoj Kotak, the BJP candidate, said, “We have been visiting every area. I cannot go door to door but our party workers are present. If they have any problem, they can come to me. I will resolve their issues.”
While NCP-Congress candidate Sanjay Dina Patil remained unavailable for comment, an office-bearer said, “We have campaigned in those areas. Still if they have any issues they can anytime come to the office and ask for help.”