MNS threat to Lodha in Malabar Hill

Mangal Prabhat Lodha

With the inclusion of Girgaum's chawls in Malabar Hill Assembly constituency, Bharatiya Janata Party MLA Mangal Prabhat Lodha will be concerned about the Marathi population of the old residential quarters in the area, given that MNS candidate Archit Jayakar is working hard to connect with these voters.

The MNS factor could dent Lodha's chances to win the coveted seat, one of Mumbai's affluent constituencies, for the fourth time. "I've been visiting chawls in the Girgaum area and it's new to me. I've been going door-to-door to speak to them about the issues of the area. However, delimitation will not affect me because people have realised that voting for the MNS will benefit the Congress-NCP," he says.

Still, there is little he can do about the resentment among the Shiv Sena workers in Marathi-speaking areas of Khetwadi and Girgaum who are less than elated about the seat being contested by the BJP's non-Marathi candidate. Sources said another factor that would work against Lodha is that these workers are not actively campaigning for Lodha, especially since there is a perception that the BJP workers did not campaign for the Sena's Mohan Rawale in the Mumbai South Parliamentary constituency in the Lok Sabha elections. Rawle lost to Congress candidate Milind Deora. Lodha, however, is quick to dismiss this. "No, there is no such thing as our alliance partners not campaigning for me. Everybody is working actively."

While banking on a "positive" campaign, Lodha announced his action plan on Tuesday. "The issues that I plan to work towards would be to create a traffic-free Malabar Hill. I would start the work on Worli-Nariman Point sea link within 12 months and ensure its timely completion. Also to decongest the areas, a two-way road is needed from Hanging Garden to Kemps Corner along with a provision for parking 1,000 cars in the area," Lodha said.

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