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Wealth gap on voters’ minds as India’s richest city gears up for the election

Mumbai, India CNN —

For millions of Indians, it’s the city where dreams come true – just look around.

From the gleaming home of Asia’s richest man, Mukesh Ambani, towering over “Billionaires’ Row,” to the waterfront mansions of Bollywood stars, Mumbai is the place where ambitions are realized.

But as India’s financial capital prepares to vote in the country’s massive general election, many residents say they want a fairer share of its wealth – with better education the key to opportunity.

In the densely packed Dadar neighborhood, hustlers and dreamers alike spill out of train stations and shopping complexes, a whirl of humanity weaving through congested streets where market traders tout for business.

Vegetable seller Sachin Chaudhary poses for a picture during an interview with CNN in Mumbai, India, on April 16, 2024.

Next to piles of potatoes and onions, 34-year-old grocer Sachin Chaudhary cites rising prices and a tough job market as his biggest concerns ahead of the city’s first voting phase later in May.

“The change I want to see is, things should become less costly,” he says. “And children are getting good educations, so there should also be better opportunities in the employment sector.”

As India’s wealthiest city, Mumbai is often likened to New York – a place of opportunity where everyone is from somewhere else, hoping to make it big and support their families, often in poorer rural hometowns.

But amid the glitz and glam, India’s other half is just as evident. Near tourist hotspots like the iconic Gateway of India, day laborers toil in the stifling heat, carrying heavy loads on their shoulders or selling knickknacks on the side of dusty roads.

A delivery worker rides his bicycle through the traffic in