MUMBAI: The bylanes which lead to Dagdi Chawl in Byculla are crowded again after a gap of five years. Dagdi Chawl, better known as the residence of gangster Arun Gawli, is known for its jubilant Navratri celebrations. This year, there is additional excitement to the nine-day festival. Election fever has gripped the area.
Gawli’s daughter Geeta is contesting Assembly elections from here. Geeta, 31, is a candidate of Akhil Bharatiya Sena (ABS) floated by Gawli in 2003. She is seeking votes in the name of development and benefits for women and children. A two-term councillor, she is confident that people will vote for her as she has worked for them.
Geeta was the chairman of the Health Committee of the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) for three years. “The works I carried out all over the city are in front of the people. Daddy (Gawli) too had worked for the people. I hope they will vote me to victory based on our performance,” she told Express. When asked to elaborate on her work she said she was in a hurry to go for a campaign rally and could not talk more.
Gawli too had won the Assembly election from this constituency in 2004. Interestingly, he could not vote for himself because he did not dare step out of his house fearing that the police would eliminate him. Police had posted encounter specialist, Vijay Salaskar, who was killed in November 26, 2008 terror attack, outside Gawli’s residence to maintain law and order.
At present, Gawli, convicted for a murder, is lodged at Taloja Central Jail, in Navi Mumbai.
Geeta, who has declared assets worth Rs 1.20 crore, is not worried about her father’s past. “People have seen him working for them. I am determined to complete the projects initiated during his tenure,” she said. She does not have any criminal case against her.
In the eastern suburb of Chembur, another kin of an underworld don is also aspiring to “serve” the people. Deepak Nikalje, younger brother of fugitive don Chhota Rajan, is contesting the elections on a Republican Party of India (RPI) ticket backed by the BJP. “Slum rehabilitation and disposal of garbage in the area will be my priorities,” Nikalje, 47, told Express. “The people are facing garbage problem because there is no dumping ground in the area. There are too many slums in this constituency. I want to provide the slum dwellers ‘pucca’ houses,” he said.
Nikalje, who declared assets worth Rs 4.70 crore, has four criminal cases pertaining to cheating and forgery against him. He had contested the 2009 elections too but came fourth. “I am trying my best. As the political situation is favourable to me this time, I am confident of a win,” he said.