With the purvanchalis (migrants from Bihar and eastern Uttar Pradesh) tipped to play a big role in deciding the fate of upcoming MCD elections, the Aam Aadmi Party has identified constituencies where the party is planning to focus and deploy its entire leadership from the region for campaigning.
The AAP has about a dozen purvanchali legislators in the 70-member Delhi assembly -- highest ever for the group since the first assembly election in 1993. Two of these ---Gopal Rai and Kapil Mishra---are members of the Arvind Kejriwal cabinet.
AAP (Delhi) convener, Dilip Pandey, also belongs to purvanchal.
“No other party has given the kind of representation to them as AAP. We continue to enjoy their support. All party legislators and office bearers from the region will focus on about 100 municipal seats, which are either dominated by purvanchalis or have a sizeable presence of the community,” a senior party leader said.
Delhi has witnessed an influx of migrants over the past few decades and purvanchali population in the city is now considered to have grown to around 40 lakh, thus emerging as a major vote bank for all political parties.
Largely concentrated in the unauthorised colonies and JJ clusters, this population has traditionally been Congress supporters until the advent of the AAP, which for the first time, by fielding them in assembly elections, graduated them from just being vote bank to shareholders of power.
Bharatiya Janata Party’s decision to appoint Bhojpuri cinestar-turned-politician Manoj Tiwari, who also represents North East Delhi in the Lok Sabha as Delhi unit president, is described as an attempt on part of the saffron party to woo the purvanchali population.
The party’s decision to not repeat any sitting councillor in the civic polls is also an attempt to field several purvanchalis, besides trying to beat the 10-years of anti-incumbency against the party in the three municipal corporations.
AAP leaders, however, describe it as “knee jerk reaction”.
“Manoj Tiwari’s appointment is a knee-jerk reaction to AAP’s clout among the purvanchali population in Delhi,” said Ashish Talwar, in-charge, AAP (Delhi).
AAP leaders point at ‘failure’ of Tiwari to ensure enough representation for purvanchalis in the assembly elections. “In his own Lok Sabha constituency, he could manage to field only one purvanchali from Burari assembly seat,” Talwar added.
In its 207-18 budget, the AAP government had allocated Rs 20 crore for the construction of Chhath ghats across the city. Chhath is the biggest festival of the purvanchalis.
Last November, the Delhi government had doubled the Chhath ghats, on Yamuna bank and other water bodies across the city, to about 350 where the revenue and the flood and irrigation department made special arrangements for the worshippers.