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Aarey and PMC Bank crisis fail to impact BJP’s fortune

The results of the polls indicate that, despite all the protests from Bandra to Borivali , the Aarey factor didn’t play a role and the Sena-BJP combine won all seats from the western suburbs.

, Mumbai Mirror|
Last Updated: Oct 25, 2019, 11.07 AM IST
The pockets where the PMC customers were protesting in majority have ultimately voted either for Shiv Sena or BJP.
(This story originally appeared in on Oct 25, 2019)
Two major issues, which saw outrage spill onto streets, did not translate into votes.

The Aarey tree felling and PMC Bank crisis – two issues, which have dogged the news headlines and seen massive protests in the run-up to the polls – have oddly failed to make an impact on the BJP’s fortunes this Maharashtra Assembly elections.

Mumbai saw agitations flare across the city this month over the felling of 2,700 trees at Aarey Colony in Goregaon – the ‘city’s green lung’ –for the construction of the Metro car shed. The issue over the axing of the trees became a major bone of contention between the BJP and Shiv Sena, with Yuva Sena chief Aaditya Thackeray openly opposing Maharashtra CM Devendra Fadnavi’s stand on it. On October 5, a day after the Bombay High Court dismissed all petitions against the cutting down of the trees, some 29 protesters, mostly students, were arrested for protesting. The ‘Save Aarey’ movement began to swell and saw Sena, NCP, Bollywood celebrities, along with green activists, citizen groups and environmentalists lash out.

The results of the polls indicate that, despite all this, the Aarey factor didn’t play a role and the Sena-BJP combine won all seats from the western suburbs – right from Bandra to Borivali – which had seen the most number of protests.

In Goregaon, which was the hub of the protests, the BJP’s Vidya Thakur won by a margin of 48,907 votes. In neighbouring Jogeshwari, the Sena’s Ravindra Waikar, too, managed a third consecutive term by a margin of 58,787 votes. Ironically, while most green activists in the city hail from Bandra-Andheri-Versova belt, the BJP candidates, Ashihs Shelar, Ameet Satam and Bharti Lavekar won big from these seats.

“These are largely middle class neighborhoods with many plush housing societies, but it looks like the Aarey protests didn’t have any impact at all,” a BJP functionary told Mirror.

28 days before the Maharashtra State Assembly elections, the Reserve Bank of India, on September 24, put restrictions on Punjab and Maharashtra Cooperative Bank under Section 35A of the Banking Regulation Act, 1949 for six months, practically seizing all control over the bank’s normal operations. This led to huge demonstrations by the depositors, who stormed the branch offices, and the RBI offices in Fort and BKC, as well as protested at Azad Maidan, demanding an explanation. Despite the fact that the PMC Bank has 17 lakhs customers, the crisis, too, did not reflect any major impact on the results. In fact, on September 26, Mirror had even reported that a day after the RBI imposed a freeze on the payouts on the PMC Bank, 12 of its directors were found having alleged links with the BJP.

The pockets where the PMC customers were protesting in majority have ultimately voted either for Shiv Sena or BJP. Sion Koliwada’s captain R Tamil Selvan has got maximum vote share of 42.23 per cent and won by a margin of 13,951 votes. Here’s a look at how the other major constituencies, which saw heated agitations, fared:

In Mulund, BJP’s Mihir Kotecha won by a margin of 63,399 votes. In Borivali, Sunil Rane of BJP won by a margin of 95,021 votes. In Versova, BJP’s Dr Bharati Lavekar won by 5,186 votes. In Andheri West, BJP’s Ameet Satam won by 18,962 votes. In Colaba, BJP’s Rahul Narwekar won by 16,195 votes. In Navi Mumbai, some 11 gurdwaras and scores of depositors united to protest since day one, but in Belapur constituency, BJP’s Manda Mhatre won by a margin of 43,597 votes. In Vikhroli, where gurdwara and depositors were protesting together, Shiv Sena’s Sunil Raut won by a margin of 27,841 votes.

In spite of the huge number of votes the saffron party drew this polls, depositors protested outside the BJP’s office in Nariman Point on the day of the results, demanding their money back.
(Catch all the Business News, Breaking News Events and Latest News Updates on The Economic Times.)

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