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Mumbai goes to UPA, courtesy MNS

Mumbai goes to UPA, courtesy MNS

Author: Sunando Sarkar
Publication: The Times of India
Date: May 17, 2009
URL: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/Pune/Mumbai-goes-to-UPA-courtesy-MNS/articleshow/4540764.cms

The UPA, which has got a pan-India mandate to form the government at the Centre, will have to be grateful to a party that unabashedly claims to speak only for Marathis for the clean sweep of Mumbai.

The Congress-NCP combine won all the six seats in India's financial capital but a seat-by-seat analysis of votes polled by parties shows that it would have managed to comfortably win only one of them (Mumbai North-Central) without the MNS favour.

Two parties (the Samajwadi Party and the Bahujan Samaj Party) that were being hyped as potential spoilers failed to do an MNS to the Congress-NCP; only Abu Asim Azmi (SP candidate in Mumbai North-West) managed a relatively respectable performance (84,000-plus votes) though even that was not enough to stop five-time Congress MP Gurudas Kamat from winning by over 38,000 votes.

The independents, too, failed to even remotely affect Congress prospects in the one seat (Mumbai South), where they were perceived to be a factor. Candidates like ABN-Amro head honcho Meera Sanyal and ophthalmologist Mona Shah gave such a scare to Congress candidate Milind Deora that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh himself had to get into the battle, appealing to voters not to waste their franchise on independents. Both ultimately lost their deposits; Sanyal got 10,157 votes and Shah managed only 4,361. They might have eaten into Deora's share but MNS's Bala Nandgaonkar did far greater damage to Shiv Sena five-time MP Mohan Rawle, relegating him to the third spot. Deora, in the end, won comfortably by over 1.1 lakh votes because of the MNS and the Sena splitting the anti-Congress votes between themselves.

This model replicated itself in four other Mumbai constituencies.

Mumbai North-East saw a three-horse race Kirit Somaiya (BJP) and Shishir Shinde (MNS) split more than 4.1 lakh votes almost equally between themselves, leaving NCP's Sanjay Patil the winner with a margin of less than 3,000 votes.

Kamat benefited similarly in Mumbai North-West. He won by over 38,000 votes, gaining from the 1.24 lakh votes polled by the MNS's Shalini Thackeray. And veteran Ram Naik (BJP) lost by less than 6,000 votes to Congress candidate Sanjay Nirupam in Mumbai North as Shirish Parkar of the MNS played spoiler with 1.47 lakh votes. Eknath Gaikwad's margin was more respectable nearly 76,000 votes but even here, the MNS candidate got more votes than that; more than 1.08 lakh voters rooted for Shweta Parulkar, giving Gaikwad a comfortable victory.

It was only in Mumbai North-Central that Congress could claim a victory unaided by the MNS. Priya Dutt got too many votes (3.19 lakh) for the MNS to count; her margin (nearly 1.75 lakh) was more than what the MNS polled (1.32 lakh votes).

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