MUMBAI: The heavy weigh support for South Mumbai Lok Sabha candidate Milind Deora by industrialist Mukesh Ambani has ensured his certain win. As local leaders here said, he is now the common candidate of both the Congress party and the Bharatiya Janata party with Ambani enjoying good relations with both.

Deora had won this Lok Sabha seat in 2004 and 2009. He lost it to the Shiv Sena in 2014 in the Modi wave whose sitting MP Arvind Sawant will be contesting the election. Sources said there is some confusion within the Sena that is not particularly keen to get on the wrong side of the heavy corporate world that seems to be supporting Deora.

Mukesh Ambani who has inherited his father Dhirubhai Ambani’s legacy, has “friends” across the board. But great significance is being attached in political circles here to the fact that the only candidate he has openly come out in support for is Milind Deora. Reliance Industries Chairman and Managing Director Mukesh Ambani was quoted in the media as saying, “Milind is the man for South Mumbai. Having represented South Mumbai for 10 years, I believe that Milind has in-depth knowledge of the social, economic and cultural ecosystem of South Mumbai.”

Uday Kotak, Managing Director and CEO of Kotak Mahindra Bank, has also come out in Deora’s support.”Milind is truly Mumbai ka connection. I genuinely believe Milind understands South Mumbai,” he said.

This support by Ambani is being seen as a signal that he would like the political parties, even those with a candidate in the fray, to support Deora. The Shiv Sena, sources said, is now in two minds as it would not like to upset “Mukeshbhai.”. In its first reaction of course the Sena expressed support over this endorsement, maintaining that it would backfire. Chief Minister of Maharashtra Devendra Fadnavis said it was Ambani’s “personal opinion.”

In the last parliamentary elections the Congress party had won Nanded and Hingoil, from the backward Marathwada region. Ambani’s support has ensured a seat in Mumbai, according to locals as he has with the announcement become the unofficial consensus candidate for both the ruling and the opposition parties.

Deora is close to Congress president Rahul Gandhi, with his father Murli Deora being a favourite of the party top brass. Deora has excellent relations with the corporates, with Murli Deora earlier being seen as a Congress ‘money bag’ during his peak years by party leaders.

Deora had lost the 2014 Lok Sabha polls to Sena’s Arvind Sawant by a little over a lakh votes. The MNS had contested then and taken over 80,000 of the votes, with Aam Aadmi Party’s Meera Sanyal having secured just 40,000 votes despite a strong campaign.

The Deora’s have been in the fray for decades now, winning or losing successive elections, but contesting nevertheless. This endorsement is expected to have an impact on the political parties, all with relations with Ambani. More so, as it comes for a Congress candidate despite the party’s strong, sustained attack on his brother Anil Ambani on the Rafale deal.