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Cong banks on glam with Urmila Matondkar

March 26, 2019 06:35 AM


Cong banks on glam with Urmila Matondkar
Actor likely to join party this week after which her candidature for Mumbai North seat will be announced

After weeks of bewilderment over lack of candidate from the Mumbai North Lok Sabha seat, the Congress seems to have found a taker in Urmila Matondkar. The actor met former city party chief Sanjay Nirupam on Monday and agreed to formally join Congress later this week, when her candidature could be announced. Later on Monday evening, Nirupam’s name was announced from the Mumbai North West constituency, as he had been trying for the past few months to shift from his original Mumbai North constituency, which he lost in 2014 to BJP’s Gopal Shetty by over four lakh votes.

Though a section of party leaders had objected to Nirupam changing his constituency, he was said to have Congress president Rahul Gandhi’s nod. According to sources, Nirupam’s ticket was kept on hold till the party found a formidable candidate from Mumbai North, which is one of the city’s five Lok Sabha seats; Congress had already announced candidates from three, except Mumbai North and North West, which were settled on Monday.

Mumbai North comprises Borivali, Dahisar, Magathane, Kandivali East, Charkop and Malad West assembly constituencies. Except Malad West, from where the Congress’s Aslam Shaikh is an MLA, all others are represented by either the Shiv Sena or the BJP.

This is the second time the Congress would be fielding a celebrity from Mumbai North. In 2004, the party had fielded actor Govinda, who had won against BJP’s Ram Naik. In 2009, Nirupam had replaced Govinda and won from the constituency. Not keen to contest from here after his loss in 2014, Nirupam’s replacement was a source of much annoyance for the Congress, which had been scouting for a candidate for over two months. Since January, some potential names that have been doing the rounds include actor Nagma, former city Congress chief Kripashankar Singh, Govinda’s nephew and actor Krushna Abhishek, party spokesperson Priyanka Chaturvedi and party functionary Mahesh Chaturvedi. According to sources, either their names were opposed by Congress leaders or they themselves refused the seat, given the party’s grim prospects in the constituency, which with its large Gujarati-Marwari population is now seen as a BJP bastion.

With Urmila in the fray now, Congress leaders believe the party has a winning chance. Known for her roles in acclaimed Hindi films like Rangeela and Satya, she has also acted in Marathi, Telugu and Malayalam films and won several awards. Sources say she will join the party in the presence of Rahul Gandhi in Delhi. “She still has a big fan following and will be a good candidate. The party will put all its might behind her and ensure she fights well. She is a known celebrity and a Maharashtrian as well. There’s a good chance of her swinging the vote and can be a game changer for the Congress just like Govinda in 2004,” a city Congress functionary said. Nirupam confirmed that the party was in talks with the actor and that she may contest from North Mumbai on a Congress ticket.

As for the Mumbai North West constituency, which Nirupam has bagged, was lost in 2014 to Shiv Sena’s Gajanan Kirtikar by late Congress leader Gurudas Kamat

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