Battle lines are being drawn for the Airoli and Belapur seats as the state will go to polls on October 13. The initial reports soon after the election code of conduct was declare show that the fight for candidatures has begun and there seems to be severe infighting plaguing parties. Even as battle-lines are being drawn all over the State for the State Assembly Polls on October 13, the 151, Belapur constituency is all set to witness a stiff fight between the State Minister for Excise and Environment and District Guardian Minister Ganesh Naik and the nuclear scientist who has recently emerged as a towering BJP leader in the region Suresh Haware. Even in Airoli, Vijay Chougule of Shiv Sena is all set to take on the Congress-NCP alliance candidate, which in all its probability will be NMMC Standing Committee Chairman Sandeep Naik. However the allocation of seats in the alliance and the very alliance itself is yet to be finalized. The RPI-PWP-SP and like minded parties front led by Ramdas Athavle could pose a threat to the Congress-NCP prospects and the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena could play spoilsport for the Shiv Sena and BJP candidates. In Belapur, Congress leaders Namdeo Bhagat, Dashrath Bhagat, Santosh Shetty are hoping to bag one seat for the Congress in the city out of the total two with Navi Mumbai District Congress Chief Namdeo Bhagat trying the hardest. And while the Congress leaders in Navi Mumbai are staking claim for the Belapur seat, this seems improbable, if one were to go by numbers in the Navi Mumbai Municipal Corporation and the comfortable lead of Sanjeev Naik of NCP in the recent Lok Sabha polls. Something that Thane Guardian Minister Ganesh Naik pointed out during an interview session of the NCP candidates in Thane recently. The Minister had said that Congress and NCP would stake claim in accordance to their strength in the municipal corporations. In Belapur, out of 46 wards, the NCP has 26 seats while the Congress has 11. In Airoli out of the 42 wards, the NCP has 31 seats while the Congress has just 4. Sanjeev Naik has a lead of over 19000 votes in Belapur against his nearest Shiv Sena rival Vijay Chougule and over 14000 votes in Airoli. Vishwarath Nayar says that the numbers each party has in the municipal corporations is the only yardstick and hence, as far as Navi Mumbai is concerned Congress does not stand a chance against the number of NCP corporators in NMMC. Thus with Ganesh Naik’s clout almost supreme in the two constituencies, there is little justification for the Congress to stake a claim and assure the prospects of victory. With or without an alliance, the Ganesh Naik faction is in a commanding position in Belapur and Airoli. However MLC Manda Mhatre and Mathadi leader Narendra Patil are claiming NCP candidature from Belapur and Airoli respectively. But without support from the Naik faction, their race could end pre-maturely putting two Congress-NCP seats in peril. Even the usurping of the Shiv Sena in Belapur by BJP candidate Suresh Haware has caused heart burns in the saffron camp and the Shiv Sena District Chief Vijay Chougule has expressed it loudly. He has said that since the Shiv Sena is strong in Navi Mumbai, they should get candidature from both the seats. On the other hand this demand has upset the Suresh Haware led BJP factions. While this has definitely created a friction in the saffron alliance partners in Belapur and Airoli constituencies, as far as Navi Mumbai goes, with or without the alliance, the Naik faction is on firm ground with comfortable majority of corporators, community leaders and sections strongly supporting them. Hence the prospect of Ganesh Naik and Sandeep Naik getting candidature appears bright and capable of taking on strong saffron alliance candidates Suresh Haware and Vijay Chougule respectively. In fact, Ganesh Naik is known to have support from opposition factions as well. Though ambitious leaders like Manda Mhatre from NCP, Santosh Shetty from Congress, Sushma Dande and Manohar Gaikhe from Shiv Sena continue hinting at rebellion, if denied consideration. Even the usurping of the Shiv sena in Belapur by BJP candidate Suresh Haware has caused heart-burns in the saffron camp and the Shiv Sena district chief Vijay Chougule has expressed it loudly. This and the MNS factor would certainly weaken the saffron alliance prospects against a towering NCP onslaught and presence in the city. In Airoli specifically, there are speculations of the MNS offering a ticket to Sushma Dande. However, Vishwarath Nayar feels that both Belapur and Airoli seats are equally tough and equally easy. And what about the independents? They won’t play any decisive role in the electoral results says Vishwarath Nayar. While factional equations are being worked out, voters in Navi Mumbai are confronting daily price rise, transportation, burdening cost of health and education and other daily woes including law and order. As far as both the constituencies in Navi Mumbai are concerned, no party or candidate is able to offer concrete answers to these questions confronting citizens’ everyday life in the city. Rather they are too busy with their race to the chair, in the Assembly, that promises command over the fortunes of the city and its citizens. Zeba Warsia – NMTV News.
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