Lok Sabha Election 2019

Fewer choices may push Kalyan voters towards Sena again

The lack of strong alternatives in Kalyan constituency is likely to tilt the balance in favour of the Shiv Sena yet again this election, residents and activists say.

Sitting MP Shrikant Shinde of the Shiv Sena is facing Babaji Patil from the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) as his key opponent.

A Sena stronghold, the constituency comprises the Assembly segments Ambernath, Ulhasnagar, Kalyan East, Kalyan Rural, Dombivli and Mumbra-Kalwa. Since it was formed in 2008, it has only had MPs from the Sena. The first Lok Sabha election in the constituency in 2009 was won by Anand Paranjpe, now with the NCP. In 2014, the Sena fielded Mr. Shinde, the son of State Minister Eknath Shinde, who won with a vote share of over 53%.

Not all in Kalyan, however, are impressed by Mr. Shinde’s performance.

Shriniwas Ghanekar, an activist who works in Kalyan and Bhiwandi, said basic issues were at the same stage as five years ago. “Of the 11 railway stations in the constituency, five are overcrowded. The Patri Pul in Kalyan was dismantled but no movement is in sight to rebuild it. We only keep hearing of tenders. Local services are yet to begin on the Diva-Vasai and Kalyan-Panvel lines,” Mr. Ghanekar said.

Mr. Shinde’s detractors say he is not in sync with the issues faced by the common man. “An MP needs to have his feet on the ground to be able to understand what the common man is going through. Mr. Shinde keeps talking about the Kalwa-Airoli bridge, but people who travel towards Gujarat still go through Panvel. A simple local service on the Kalyan-Panvel line will eliminate the need for a separate bridge. But those who roam around in air-conditioned cars cannot be expected to understand this,” a Kalyan resident said.

Despite this discontent, Mr. Shinde may well ride his way to victory, simply because the voters do not have many other options. “People are confused as to whether bringing someone else into power would be a bigger mistake. This could work in Mr. Shinde’s favour,” Mr. Ghanekar said.

Environmental activist Shashikant Dayma said, “Babaji Patil is contesting from the NCP this time but nobody in Kalyan knows him as he is from Thane. Plus, after the recent ‘patriotic’ surge in the country, the ‘Modi wave’ has again taken hold of the people. They are voting for [Prime Minister Narendra] Modi and not the candidate.”

Mr. Dayma has for years been fighting against the pollution of the Waldhuni and Ulhas rivers due to the effluent waste released by companies in the MIDC area. “Be it the rivers or the Ambarnath dumping ground, the MP has given zero response to our repeated requests, both written and verbal. A sum of ₹7,800 crore was announced for the clean-up of the rivers, but we are yet to see it,” Mr. Dayma said.

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Printable version | Aug 15, 2020 8:23:53 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/elections/lok-sabha-2019/fewer-choices-may-push-kalyan-voters-towards-sena-again/article26975546.ece

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