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Constituency Watch: BJP bastion Mumbai North is ‘open-minded’, elected a royal and rookies 4 times since 1952

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Mumbai, May 16 (IANS) Considered a BJP stronghold, the Mumbai North Lok Sabha seat is largely an open-minded constituency, accepting leadership of the so-called ‘outsiders’, and electing one royal and four political greenhorns since 1952.

The seat has readily embraced the so-called ‘outsiders’ in the 15 LS polls it has witnessed, and sent MPs of whom three became Central ministers in various governments.

In a sort of reversal, this time, a Union Minister of the BJP, Piyush Goyal, is contesting his maiden LS polls from Mumbai North against veteran Congress worker Bhushan K. Patil, who’s also making his debut in electoral politics, and Vanchit Bahujan Aghadi’s rookie nominee, advocate Sonal D. Gondane (33).

Billed as an ‘outsider’ in the poll campaigns, Goyal (59), who hails from the posh Malabar Bill area in south Mumbai, is locking horns with Patil, a resident of Borivali, while Gondane hails from Dahisar.

Given BJP’s strong grip over the 18-lakh voters in the seat, including 19 per cent Muslims and 7 per cent Dalits, plus Marathis, Gujaratis and Rajasthanis, Goyal is confident of sailing through with his long bout of campaign for the May 20 elections.

A chartered accountant and a lawyer, Goyal is banking on his image as a Union Minister for the past 10 years, his political lineage — his late father Vedprakash Goyal was a BJP Union Minister, while his mother Chandrakanta Goyal has been a three-time MLA — the performance of the Modi government, plus the goodwill and the combined support of the BJP-Shiv Sena-Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) to see him through.

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Nevertheless, he faces a tough challenge from the Maha Vikas Aghadi-INDIA bloc nominee Patil, who has the backing of the Congress-Shiv Sena (UBT)-Nationalist Congress Party (SP) and other allies.

Patil is also buoyed by a perceived ‘sympathy’ factor among the Marathis after senior SS (UBT) leader Abhishek V. Ghosalkar was shot dead on February 8 during a Facebook Live interaction with his constituents by a local goon named Mauris Noronha, who was reportedly planning to join the ruling MahaYuti ally Shiv Sena.

The SS (UBT) is also hoping for Marathi support after the party split (in June 2022), and even contemplated fielding Ghosalkar’s widow, Tejasvee. But the Mumbai North constituency went to the Congress in the seat-sharing, and now all MVA allies are backing Patil.

Earlier, Mumbai North had elected a Kerala royal and Janata Party’s Union Minister Ravindra Varma (1980), Congress’ Narayan S. Kajrolkar (1952) who defeated B.R. Ambedkar from the seat then named Mumbai North Central, Union Minister V.K. Krishna Menon (twice, in 1957 & 1962), and BJP’s Union Minister Ram Naik (5 times, 1989, 1991, 1996, 1998, 1999).

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Mumbai North also embraced first-timers like Congress’ Vithal Balkrishna Gandhi (1952) known as the ‘American Gandhi’, Janata Party’s Mrinal K. Mohile-Gore (1977) – famed as the ‘Paaniwali Bai’, Congress’ Anoopchand Shah (1984), and Congress’ actor-politician Govinda (2004).

Incidentally, Govinda became a giant-killer in 2004 when he trounced the veteran Naik in one of the biggest upsets. Naik again bit the dust in 2009 when Congress’ Sanjay Nirupam defeated him.

However, Bollywood actress Urmila Matondkar became a victim of Congress infighting in 2019, giving a smooth sail to the BJP’s sitting MP Gopal C. Shetty in the two BJP waves (2014, 2019), but this time he had to make way for Goyal.

On the campaign trail since two months, Goyal has had his share of ‘goof-ups’, like walking around the fishing village and slums with his face covered as he couldn’t bear the stench of the down-market localities, or trumpeting his ideas to relocate the slums from here to the barren salt-pans in north-eastern Mumbai to ‘clean up’ Mumbai North.

Both earned the ire of the locals with SS (UBT)’s Aditya Thackeray taking a jibe at him saying “the BJP wants to shift the slum-dwellers as they can’t buy electoral bonds”. The locals also didn’t exactly relish Goyal walking around them with a kerchief to his nose and mouth.

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Mumbai North comprises six Assembly segments of which four are held by the BJP, one by the Shiv Sena and the other by the Congress.

The break-up is — BJP, Dahisar (MLA Manisha Chaudhary), Borivali (MLA Sunil Rane), Kandivali East (MLA Atul Bhatkhalkar) and Charkop (MLA Yogesh Sagar); Shiv Sena, Magathane (MLA Prakash Surve); and Congress, Malad West (MLA Aslam Shaikh).

Like the rest of city, Mumbai North has problems of slums congestion in nearly one-third of the seat, massive traffic, air pollution, the Poisar and Dahisar rivers which are virtually gutters, and lack of sufficient open spaces, though it has some good roads, railways and metro-rail connectivity, and things are gradually improving for the citizenry.

Perched on the north-western boundaries of the country’s commercial capital, it ranks among the greenest constituencies, being home to the sprawling Sanjay Gandhi National Park teeming with leopards and other wild animals which often spill over to the adjoining concrete jungles.

It also nestles the world’s largest unsupported stone domed Global Vipassana Pagoda with a capacity of 8,000 devotees, besides several picturesque beaches in Borivali and Malad, the 1,000-2,000 years old Kanheri Caves complex and other landmarks dotting the region.

(Quaid Najmi can be contacted at: q.najmi@ians.in)

–IANS

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Army man attacked by group of five in Karnataka's Tumakuru

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Tumakuru, May 25 (IANS) The Karnataka Police on Friday registered a case against five individuals for attacking a soldier of the Indian Army with a beer bottle at a village under the Koratagere police station limits here.

The injured soldier, Govindaraju (30), is admitted to Koratagere government hospital.

Govindaraju, posted in Rajouri district of Jammu and Kashmir, had returned to his hometown in Rayawara village on vacation

According to the police, the incident occurred at Bhyrenahalli while Govindaraju was returning home after visiting someone in the village.

A group of five individuals stood in the road, blocking Govindaraju’s path. When he asked them to allow him to pass through, the group enraged and started abusing him. Later, one of them smashed Govindaraju’s head with a beer bottle. Others in the group also attacked him.

The accused individuals have been identified as Bharath, Puneeth, Gourishankar, Shiva, and Dileep.

Following the soldier’s complaint, the Koratagere police have filed a case against the accused individuals and launched a hunt to apprehend them.

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The Koratagere Assembly constituency is represented by Karnataka Home Minister G. Parameshwara.

–IANS

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Delhi cops pose as NGO workers in Assam to nab man absconding for 16 years

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New Delhi, May 25 (IANS) A man, who had been on the run for 16 years for allegedly attacking his wife with a knife, was arrested from a forest area in southern Assam. The arrest was made by a team of the Delhi Police Crime Branch, which posed as NGO volunteers to prevent any potential complications, an official said.

The accused, identified as Noor Mohammad, was wanted in an attempt to murder case.

Noor Mohammad, who was separated from his wife, had attacked her face and head with a sharp-edged “dao” during an altercation, resulting in serious injuries. Sensing the gravity of the situation, he fled, leaving her in a critical condition.

“The police team had been gathering information about Noor Mohammad, who was wanted in an attempted murder case by the Najafgarh police since 2008. They discovered he was in Assam and reached Mankachar, South Salmara, near the Bangladesh border,” said Deputy Commissioner of Police (Crime) Amit Goel.

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Due to the remote and forested area, there was a high risk of the team’s cover being blown. “To mitigate this, the team posed as members of an NGO assisting woodcutters and conducted a detailed survey of the area for three consecutive days. Their relentless efforts paid off, and they successfully identified and apprehended Noor Mohammad,” said the DCP.

Noor Mohammad told police that he came to Delhi in 1997 in search of livelihood. He started working with a scrap dealer in the Bhogal area of Delhi and married Muniza in 2000.

However, after a few years of marriage, they separated due to matrimonial disputes. After allegedly committing the crime, Noor Mohammad escaped from Delhi and relocated to Assam, choosing a different location from his native place to hide.

“He had been working as a woodcutter in a nearby forest area and was living there with his second wife and children,” the DCP said.

–IANS

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LS polls: Over 25L voters to decide fate of 23 candidates in Gurgaon constituency

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Gurugram, May 24 (IANS) The sixth phase of the ongoing Lok Sabha elections will see voters in all 10 Parliamentary constituencies in Haryana exercising their franchise on Saturday (May 25). In the Gurgaon LS seat, a total of 25,33,958 voters will decide the fate of 23 candidates who are in the fray.

Campaigning ended on Thursday at 6 p.m. after which the Gurugram district administration imposed Section 144 which restricts the gathering of five or more persons.

Candidates from five major parties including five-time sitting MP Rao Inderjit Singh of the BJP, Raj Babbar from Congress, singer-rapper Rahul Yadav — popularly known as Fazilpuria — of Jannayak Janta Party, Vijay Kumar from Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), Sohrab Khan from the Indian National Lok Dal are contesting from Gurgaon Lok Sabha seat.

In nine Assembly segments of the Gurgaon Lok Sabha constituency, over 2,000 polling booths have been set up.

Of the total number of voters, 13,51,239 are male while 12,2,641 are female. The number of third-gender voters in the Gurgaon Lok Sabha constituency is 78.

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Voting time on May 25 has been fixed from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Arrangements have also been made to ensure that people above 85 years of age and people with disabilities can cast their vote from home.

Rao Inderjit Singh represented the Gurgaon LS constituency three times in a row — in 2009, 2014 and in 2019.

In the 2019 Lok Sabha Elections, he won the seat with a margin of 3,86,256 votes.

Rao Inderjit Singh got 8,81,546 votes. He defeated Congress candidate Captain Ajay Singh who got 4,95,290 votes. BSP candidate Chaudhary Rais Ahmad stood third with 26,756 votes in the constituency.

Meanwhile, over 10,000 security personnel, including those from the paramilitary forces, will be deployed during the polling.

–IANS

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Rajasthan govt orders audit of deaths 'caused by heatwaves'

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Jaipur, May 25 (IANS) The Rajasthan government on Friday ordered an audit of deaths “caused by heatwaves” in the state and constituted a committee for it.

Additional Chief Secretary of the Health Department Shubhra Singh instructed officials during a meeting that heat stroke as the cause of death should only be reported after an investigation by the audit committee.

“Deaths being reported in medical institutions should be investigated by the audit committee as per protocol. Only after the investigation, deaths due to heat stroke should be reported on the IHIP portal,” she said.

Singh also refuted reports which claimed a woman and her son died due to heat stroke in Pali.

She said that the family of Samandar Singh, who allegedly died due to heat stroke, denied postmortem following his death. He had no symptoms of heat stroke.

“Similarly, Samandar Singh’s 80-year-old mother Raju Kanwar was a heart patient. She was admitted to the government hospital in Sadri on May 23 after difficulty in breathing and chest pain and died during treatment on May 24. The medical team said that the cause of death was heart failure. Her death was also not found to be due to heat stroke,” Singh added.

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She directed officials of the Health Department to work with sensitivity and ensure the availability of coolers, fans, ACs and water facilities in hospitals.

All arrangements should be made in three days else strict action will be taken against concerned officials, she said.

–IANS

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Two men die cleaning septic tank in Delhi

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New Delhi, May 24 (IANS) Two men died while cleaning a septic tank in Delhi’s Old Jasola village on Friday, the police said.

According to the police, a PCR call was received at the Sarita Vihar police station on Friday afternoon informing that two men fell in a ‘gutter’ (sewerage) at Old Jasola Village following which a police team was rushed to the spot.

Upon reaching the spot, the police found that two persons had been hired to clean a septic tank by a man named Iqbal Singh, a resident of the same locality.

“As they entered the septic tank to rectify a glitch, they fell unconscious,” said Deputy Commissioner of Police (South-East), Rajesh Deo.

A fire tender team was called to the spot which pulled the two persons out of the tank and sent them to the hospital, where they were declared dead.

“One of the deceased has been identified as Rajprakash Singh (60), a resident of Molarband Extension. The identity of the second person is being verified,” the DCP said.

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–IANS

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