Come October 22 and the verdict will be out. Will Ganesh Naik continue his two decades reign over the city? Will anti-incumbency usher in change? Will the Congress salvage its reputation or sink it in the city? If the recent Lok Sabha polls could be taken as an indicator then Ganesh Naik and Sandeep Naik should have a smooth ride to victory in Belapur and Airoli respectively. In fact both could build on the lead of over 19000 in Belapur and over 13000 in Airoli. The poll outcome will reveal the share of the present Congress leaders in the city in the NCP-Congress-RPI(G) combine. However, in Belapur the rebel Congress candidate Namdev Bhagat polls over 25000 votes then Ganesh Naik could be calling for deep trouble. Yet with MNS, RLDF, BSP and other independent candidates garnering about 15000 out of the 1.40 lakh votes polled, it leaves about 1 lakh votes to be split between the main rivals Ganesh Naik and Suresh Haware. For Ganesh Naik, the 55000 votes target appears more easy as his son had polled over 62000 votes from Belapur in the Lok Sabha poll just a couple of months ago. For Suresh Haware it is an uphill climb from the 43000 votes polled by the Saffron alliance in the Lok Sabha poll with sections of Shiv Sainiks displeased at the BSP bagging the alliance ticket and further the native local communities denied candidature in Belapur and Airoli by the BJP-SS alliance. In Airoli, Sandeep Naik appears to be heading for a larger lead than his brother Dr. MP Sanjeev Naik scored against Vijay Chougule in the Lok Sabha poll, who is again the main rival in the assembly election. With many other local leaders consolidating their mandate for Sandeep Naik, apparently Vijay Chowgule will find it hard to reach his tally in the Lok Sabha poll. The third front may eat into both the main rivals votes but with little impact on both of them. The Congress rebels were also not serious in fighting against Sandeep Naik and hence they fielded a lesser known Vasant Mhatre instead of the firebrand youth leader and opposition leader in NMMC Ramakant Mhatre, who opted to save face by not revealing his limited clout in the assembly constituency, though the scales are tilted favorably for Sandeep Naik, the Vijay Chowgule camp too is confident of a win, based on Vijay Chowgule’s personal campaign with local leaders in the region without much media support and fanfare. However in Belapur, the experience and bonds built by Ganesh Naik during the last 3 decades could overwhelm. Haware worked out a well laid out plan that did not have enough capable people to implement. He however succeeded in giving sleepless nights to his main opponent’s camp. But will this success translate into victory- is the moot question. Till then Ganesh Naik, Suresh Haware and Namdev Bhagat are all sure of a win with the Ganesh Naik camp confident of exceeding Sanjeev Naik’s margin, the Suresh Haware camp expecting a 2000 to 6000 votes marginal victory and Namdev Bhagat camp banking on the large number of Congress votes exceeding the vertically split votes of Ganesh Naik and Suresh Haware. If the Lok Sabha elections and the number of NCP corporators in NMMC are anything to go by then, Ganesh Naik and Sandeep Naik will sail smoothly towards victory in Belapur and Airoli constituency unless Congress rebel Namdeo Bhagat plays a spoiler helping Suresh Haware to create an upset for the NCP camp in Belapur. With Managing Editor Zeba Warsia, Sana Warsia for NMTV News.
January 24, 2007
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