Political Battle in Mumbai’s Gated Communities: BJP’s Active Campaigning Raises Eyebrows

Mumbai, 12th May 2024: In Mumbai and its suburbs, residential complexes serve as key battlegrounds for political candidates aiming to leave an impression. The proliferation of gated communities, offering exclusive amenities and security, presents both allure and challenge to outsiders. Recent events in a Ghatkopar housing society underscored the potential for polarization within these enclaves.

According to Mrudul Nile, a political analyst and professor at the University of Mumbai, large housing societies provide a platform akin to a village, enabling candidates to target specific demographics divided by factors like income, religion, and caste. This election season, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has been particularly active in these spaces, leveraging its robust network for campaigning, as seen during the festivities surrounding the Ram Mandir’s inauguration in Ayodhya.

The ease of BJP candidates’ entry into these communities can be attributed to personal connections or investments by party functionaries. In some instances, this has led to opposition parties facing obstacles in campaigning, such as being barred from entry into certain premises, as witnessed in a Ghatkopar society where Shiv Sena (UBT) workers were reportedly denied access.

To navigate such challenges, campaigners often engage with resident collectives and address local concerns. Candidates visit community centres, religious spaces, and other gathering spots to connect with residents and address their grievances. These interactions are crucial in forming perceptions of the candidates among voters.

For instance, residents of Neptune CHS in Kandivali East raised civic issues with BJP candidate Piyush Goyal, who responded promptly to their demands for a multi-speciality hospital and other amenities. Similarly, senior citizens of Dreams Complex CHS in Bhandup West voiced their concerns to BJP candidate Mihir Kotecha, highlighting issues such as pollution and traffic congestion.

In South Mumbai, BJP Mumbai president Mangal Prabhat Lodha campaigned for candidate Yamini Jadhav, leveraging his longstanding rapport with Gujarati Jain residents of Warden Court. Residents emphasized the importance of politicians addressing their concerns and holding them accountable, particularly ahead of BMC elections.

In Juhu’s Janki Kutir, both Shiv Sena candidates, Amol Kirtikar and Ravindra Waikar, engaged with residents, discussing their plans and past work. Despite the sizable population, only a fraction attended these meetings, signalling varying levels of voter engagement.

Ultimately, interactions between candidates and residents in gated communities serve to hold politicians accountable and shape electoral outcomes, highlighting the significance of grassroots engagement in the political process.