Tomorrow (30 April 2009) is the third phase of elections. It is being conducted in 107 constituencies spread across 11 states. They are Bihar (11), Gujarat (26), Jammu & Kashmir (1), Karnataka (11), Madhya Pradesh (16), Maharashtra (10), Sikkim (1), Uttar Pradesh (15), West Bengal (14), Dadra & Naagar Haveli (1), and Daman & Diu (1) (see Map).
This phase is special as being in Mumbai, I would also be voting tomorrow. The elections for the ten seats in Maharashtra are those in Mumbai (6) and Thane (4). The Chief Electoral Officer Mumbai has put up helplines for people to find out their booths. The helpline numbers are 2279 3925 and 3219 7767. One can also SMS and get information, the mobile numbers are: 9320 899623, 9320 928504, 9320 948340, 9322 193799, and 9324 376961.
My constituency is Mumbai North West and when I called up I was successful in getting the details of my polling booth (Gurukul Vidyalaya, Ground Floor, Room No.1, General AK Vaidya Marg, Malad (E)). This is close to my place of residence at IGIDR.
I will elaborate a little more about my constituency. There are 21 candidates in the fray. They are: Athar Siddiqui (Bahujan Samaj Party, BSP), Ad.Kamat Gurudas Vasant (Indian National Congress, INC), Gajanan Kirtikar (Shiv Sena, SHS, in alliance with the Bharatiya Janata Party, BJP), Aggarwal Rishi Dharampal (Jago Party (JGP), a new party with base in Rajasthan that is against corruption), Abu Asim Azmi (Samajwadi Party, SP), Jadhav Bhikaji Gangaram (Kranti Kari Jai Hind Sena), Thakare Shalini Jitendra (Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS), a party formed after splintering from Shiv Sena), Tawade Dilip Narayan (All India Forward Bloc), Pawar Subhash Pandurang (Prabuddha Republican Party), Vaijanath Sangram Gaikwad (Bharipa Bahujan Mahasangha) and eleven independents - Anita Ramkrushan Rupawate, Kamble Satish Kisan, Dayanand Nivruti Kamble, Dhotre Maruti Yamnappa, Ninad Manjardekar, Pramod Sitaram Kasurde, Bhatia Ripudaman Singh (a marine engineer), Mohammed Rafiq Abdul Razak Shaikh, Mahadev Limbaji Galphade, Dr. Vijay Bhave (a child specialist), and Santosh Pandurang Chaike.
As a layman one began by thinking that Ad Gurdas Kamat (INC) and Gajanan Kirtikar (SHS) are strong contenders. The former's traditional vote bank may be dented by Athar Siddiqui (BSP)and Abu Azmi (SP) whereas Shalini Thakare (MNS) may dent that of Kirtikar. In fact, an on line poll in Mumbai Mirror for Mumbai Nort West gives more than half the votes to Athar Siddiqui and 15 per cent to Shalini Thakare. For the other five Mumbai constituencies the Mumbai Mirror results are as follows. Dr. Mona Shah (Professional Party of India) and the Banker Meera Sanyal (Indepent) doing well in Mumbai South. Sanjay Nirupam (INC), Shirish Parkar (MNS) and Ram Naik (BJP) are fighting it out in Mumbai North. Priya Dutt Roncon (INC) is ahead of Shilpa Sarpotdar (MNS) who seems to be denting BJP's Ram Jathmalani in Mubai North Central. Shailen Ghosh (Independent) and Shweta Parlekar (MNS) seem to be doing better than Eknath Gaikwad (INC) and Suresh Gambhir (SHS). In Mumbai North East, Shishir Shinde (MNS) seems to be better poised than that of Kirit Somaiya of BJP and Sanjay Dina Patil of Nationalist Congress Party (NCP).
The Times of India's Lead India series indicates that Mumbai North West looks for Mr Clean while highlighting the candidatures of Kamat, Kirtikar, Azmi and Thakare. On line voting of issues by Mumbai Votes identified corruption, terrorism, public transport, disaster management and environmental protection. Based on the Manifesto and promises of the contenders, Rishi Aggarwal of JGP seems to be the real Mr Clean.
In Mumbai North West, five candidates have provided their profile in websites and four of them have a group in facebook in their support. They are Rishi Aggarwal (FB group), Abu Azmi (FB group), Shalini Thakare (FB group), Ripudaman Bhatia (FB group), and Dr Vijay Bhave.
A broad reading at this stage is that MNS is going to give a run to BJP-Shiv Sena combine in the city. If only they would not have cultivated an anti-North Indian image they would have been a force to reckon with. There is a mood for change and there are going to be some major surprises. The dampener is that with a holiday being declared tomorrow, followed by labour day May 1st and the weekend many people might have taken a break and gone out of the city. Nevertheless, my word is that INC-NCP and BJP-SHS better watch out!