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|August 30, 1999||
Constituency Profile/ Bombay South Central
Rawale faces tough challenge from Samajwadi Party's Majeed Memon
The last-moment surprise entry of Samajwadi Party candidate and noted lawyer Majeed Memon in the fray for the Bombay South-Central Lok Sabha seat will pose a tough challenge to Shiv Sena's firebrand leader Mohan Rawale, who is seeking re-election to Parliament for a record fourth successive time.
The battle, however, is going to be triangular, as other candidate and Kamgar Aghadi leader Dada Samant, brother of slain trade unionist Datta Samant, is also in the race. The late Dr Samant had contested from this constituency several times and won the elections once. Dada Samant is contesting on an RPI-Ambedkar-Bharatiya Bahujan Mahasangh ticket.
Besides the trio, the only other candidate is an independent candidate, P K Gaikwad.
In the 1998 Lok Sabha elections, Rawale defeated Samajwadi Party candidate and MLA, Suhail Lokhandwala by a mere 153 votes in a nail-biting finish during re-counting. While Rawale got 1,71,376 votes, Lokhandwala polled 1,71,223 votes. This time too Lokhandwala was to contest the elections, but recently he suffered a massive heart-attack, which resulted in the last-minute surprise entry of Memon, who is a defence lawyer in the designated TADA court trying serial bomb-blast accused.
The polling in this Lok Sabha constituency and its assembly segments is scheduled in the second phase on September 11. The constituency, which has 8,12,216 voters, including 3,21,775 women voters, comprises a large number of people from the working class as well as minorities.
The constituency, covering six assembly seats -- Chinchpokli, Nagpada, Mazgaon, Parel, Sewree and Worli -- has always been in the news in the past because of several inter-gang shootouts, industrial lockouts, closure of mills, morchas, hunger strikes and agitation. Wooing the mix of minorities and working class in this area is a tough task ahead for the candidates. Rawale has represented the constituency three times (1991, 1996 and 1998) in a row. In view of a mere margin of 153-vote victory in the last elections and the performance of the Shiv Sena-BJP alliance in the state, he will have to play very safe this time.
Like other constituencies of Bombay, this constituency has been represented by stalwarts and political heavyweights. In 1954, noted communist leader S A Dange won this seat defeating Gopal Maney, but lost to Vitthal Gandhi of the Congress in the next parliamentary elections. In 1967, Dange wrested the seat from Congress candidate H J Mahindra. In 1971, S Abdul Kader won the seat defeating Datta Pradhan, while in 1977 Bapu C Kamble, who contested on a Bharatiya Lok Dal ticket, defeated trade unionist and former Rashtriya Mill Mazdoor Sangh president Vasant Hoshing.
However, in the 1980 elections, Kamble faced defeat at the hands of R R Bhole of the Congress.
In 1984, Datta Samant, contesting as an independent, defeated Dange's daughter Roza Deshpande. The elections of 1989 saw the rise of the Sena in this constituency when Wamanrao Mahadik, who contested as an independent, defeated Rupwate. In 1991, Rawale, then a youth wing leader of the Sena, defeated Rupwate and established a stronghold in this constituency.
The stage is all set for an intriguing triangular contest, though political observers say that the main fight will be between Rawale and Memon. However, the presence of working class in this constituency, and the memories of late Dr Samant will give a level-playing field to his younger brother Dada Samant. The issues here include criminalisation of politics, law and order situation, industrial problems, mill workers' problems.
While Rawale is highlighting the disenfranchising of Shiv Sena chief Balasaheb Thackeray by the Election Commission, Memon says his job after entering Parliament would be to book Thackeray for his role in the December 1992-january 1993 communal riots which, he says, was evident from the Justice B N Srikrishna Commission report.
Kargil also is a hot topic here. Samant feels that the working class as well as other sections of society will vote for him. Like the Lok Sabha seat, the six assembly segments falling in this constituency will also witness a three-cornered battle. A total of 44 candidates are in the fray in these assembly constituencies.
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