Vote wisely and well, Mumbai!

26 Apr,2019


By Ranjona Banerji


Mumbai votes on April 29. Notoriously, one of India’s most politically apathetic cities, if the city manages to cross 50 per cent voter turnout, that’s a matter for great celebration. What Mumbai votes for when it does vote is the other question. In most cases, all that exercises people are the municipal issues – roads, water, garbage, sanitation and to some extent health and education. But even less people vote in the municipal elections than they do in general and assembly elections. So…

A group of people have been trying to save Aarey from a Metro Railway shed project. The expanse of greenery from Jogeshwari to Borivali is vital for the city’s survival, to save it from becoming another smog-filled unbreathable Delhi. The sea can only do so much. Check how much Mumbai-based media concentrates on this aspect of Mumbai life. Development is all very well but…

Mumbai’s candidates, as the links below will show, have no shortage of personal funds available to them. They also have enough public funds at their disposal. How many will waste all that on using paver blocks on city roads or skywalks which will later be demolished is also worth investigating. Perhaps it is also worthwhile to check which media tells you who does what.

The links below, from AGNI and ADR, give you relevant information about your candidates across Mumbai’s 6 Lok Sabha constituencies.

But let’s not beat about the bush. The biggest story in the Maharashtra elections has been Raj Thackeray. The Maharashtra Navnirman Sena chief did not have the possible electoral success he had anticipated when he split from the Shiv Sena over a leadership tussle with his cousin Uddhav and formed his own party in 2006. The idea was an inclusive party, but the MNS soon descended into petty thuggery and violent intimidation as it found it hard to compete with the Shiv Sena and national parties. Beating up North Indians and toll gate staff became an un-salutary staple.

The party has had to fight for relevance but suddenly, Thackeray has hit a new stride. With no stake in the current elections, he has been touring Maharashtra making speeches attacking Prime Minister Narendra Modi. This is not just all clever rhetoric, Bal Thackeray style. This is hard work – more than that done by any journalists, unfortunately – where Modi’s claims of development and change are exposed. MNS workers have gone to villages to check whether they are really clean or digital as shown in BJP propaganda or government ads. The results have been hilarious, to be honest, as India is neither clean nor digital as we all know.

Many in the media – liberal or otherwise – are stuck in a peculiar bind, where Thackeray has done more work than many of them in exposing the Prime Minister’s bombast, but they still feel compelled to point out Raj Thackeray’s many faults.

This conundrum, plus the re-emergence of Raj Thackeray has been perfectly delineated in this article by Smruti Koppikar, where she examines the phenomenon:

Has Thackeray got too much publicity since he started on his tour of Maharashtra? Certainly, the local BJP is rattled since it tried to get the Election Commission to stop him. But Thackeray has no candidates in this election, so the EC could not oblige the BJP this time. Some in the media have speculated on his backers – the NCP? – and the BBC even asked him why he’s doing this since others will benefit. So what, was his answer, let them benefit.

It’s a remarkable admission, and lays bare in a sense what is being fought for in these elections.

As for Raj Thackeray, he has not been seen and admired in some sections of the national media quite like this, since he reduced Arnab Goswami to a little kitten on national television a few years ago.

Vote wisely and well, Mumbai!


Ranjona Banerji is a senior journalist and commentator. She is also Consulting Editor, MxMIndia. The views here are personal


2019 LOKSABHA MUMBAI NORTH CENTRAL Comparative Statement


2019 LOKSABHA MUMBAI SOUTH CENTRAL Comparative Statement

2019 LOKSABHA MUMBAI SOUTH Comparative Statement

2019 LOKSABHA MUMBAI NORTH WEST Comparative Statement

2019 LOKSABHA MUMBAI NORTH EAST Comparative Statement

2019 LOKSABHA MUMBAI NORTH Comparative Statement

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