Civic issues dominate battle for Andheri east

Written By Unknown on Minggu, 12 Oktober 2014 | 22.23

MUMBAI: Andheri east is known for being an industrial and corporate township owing to the MIDC and SEEPZ blocks as well as Marol-Maroshi stretch. A vast number of hotelsvhave mushroomed near the airport hub. Lakhs of people commute to work, putting an enormous strain on the rail and road infrastructure.

In fact, the BEST claims its only profit-making route in the whole city is bus no 340 which plies in Andheri East.

Around 30% of the population comprises north Indians and an equal number are Maharashtrians. Muslims make up around 12% of the constituency profile

Sitting MLA Suresh Shetty of the Congress is seeking his fourth re-election amid a list of challengers including Ramesh Latke of the Shiv Sena, Sunil Yadav of the BJP, Sandeep Dalvi of the MNS and Akhilesh Sinh of NCP. Former encounter specialist Pradeep Sharma had cast his hat into the ring as well but later revoked his candidacy.

Shetty says civic issues including water supply, drainage and garbage collection are leading the election. ""People expect their MLAs to resolve basic problems even though these come under the civic body, because these cause extreme discomfort."" The slum rehab scheme of localities like Saiwadi and Gundavli is a cause for heartburn among residents living in transit camps and Shetty promises to look into this.

He sees his main challenger in former Shiv Sena corporator Ramesh Latke. Latke tears into Shetty's 15-year tenure. ""I merely campaign for a few hours in the evening by waving from the lanes because people have seen my work. But Shetty travels door to door for six to eight hours each day because he has lost connect with the voters. He was state minister for health yet the condition of the Kamgar Hospital in MIDC area which is meant for the labour class remains abysmal. Seven years ago he performed the bhoomipujan for its revamp. Since then, not a brick has moved. Also, one of the biggest issues facing the student community in Andheri East is the closure of the MVLU-Chinai Colleges. He was ineffective in getting the management to reopen these institutes.""

Shetty says the hospital work is progressing fast.

Latke points to the potholed roads below the Metro Rail, saying residents twist their ankles as they negotiate the shoddily resurfaced stretch. Rivals blame his party, the Shiv Sena which heads the BMC for this mess, but Latke says this road belongs to MMRDA.

The BJP is fielding Sunil Yadav whose wife Sandhya is a Shiv Sena corporator. In fact she came under fire from her own party for allegedly canvassing for her husband rather than the Sena candidate. ""How is she helping me? It is I who brought her into politics,"" defends Yadav. ""She is looking after my house and caring for my children, that is the kind of help any wife gives her husband.""

Yadav says in this short span of 15 days he has given his all to the campaign. He extols the virtue of the BJP's election mascot, PM Narendra Modi, and says his voters are inspired to see the PM work 17-18 hours, pick up a broom and impress the international community. He says, ""Corruption and unemployment are serious issues in my constituency. Just the other day, officials of piped gas company were saying they do not have enough technical staff to supply piped gas to more households. We can bring Modiji's concept of skill development to Andheri East and create jobs.""

Yadav predicts a wave of anti-incumbency for Shetty, pointing to the commercialisation of the Chinai college plot.

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