Congress leader Milind Deora has contested the Mumbai South Lok Sabha seat against the Shiv Sena’s Arvind Sawant. Despite having won it in 2004 and 2009, Deora had lost the seat to Sawant in 2014 by a margin of 128,564 votes.
His father, Murli Deora, had represented the constituency for three terms from 1984.
In addition to Milind Deora and Arvind Sawant, Anil Choudhari of the Vanchit Bahujan Aghadi was also in the fray. However, Choudhari is not expected to make a big impact on voters.
Milind Deora has previously served as Minister of State with the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology and also with the Ministry of Shipping. In March, he took over from Sanjay Nirupam as the Mumbai Congress chief.
He promised voters that he would resolve problems related to housing, infrastructure, traffic and transportation, and make Mumbai a world-class city.
Deora’s campaign to wrest back the seat from Sawant might have received a shot in the arm when businessman Mukesh Ambani endorsed the Congress leader. “Milind is the man for South Mumbai,” Ambani said in a video message on April 17. “....Milind has in-depth knowledge of social, economic and cultural eco-system of the South Bombay constituency.”
Businessman Uday Kotak also endorsed Milind Deora in a statement last month.
The same day, Milind Deora and Sawant held a discussion with brokers at the Bombay Stock Exchange at which they discussed matters such as demonetisation and privatisation.
The Congress candidate said that Mumbai South is one of the most diverse constituencies in the country, and he aimed to represent everybody. He claimed that he failed to win the seat in 2014 because of a “Modi wave”.
Sawant argued that while he has done good work for the constituency, he has not talked it up adequately.
On May 13, the Election Commission censured Milind Deora for claiming that the Shiv Sena had insulted the Jain community, and for asking voters not to choose the party. The poll panel said that Milind Deora had violated the Model Code of Conduct and asked him to refrain from doing so again.
Deora struck back by organising a press conference at which he claimed that his opponent had 13 criminal charges against him. Sawant countered Milind Deora’s claim at a “Meet Your Candidate” event on April 24, insisting that he faced only one charge.
Sawant, according to the Mumbai Mirror, has promised that if he is reelected, he will rehabilitate residents of slums and chawls by providing free housing on land belonging to the Bombay Port Trust. In order to generate employment, he promised to build industries on lands where textile mills once stood.
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