Swayed by the charm of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, a leader from Gujarat who was made the face of the Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) campaign in Maharashtra, Gujaratis in Mumbai are likely to help the party consolidate its position.
The response of the community, the third largest linguistic group in the city after Maharashtrians and North Indians, is significant as the Shiv Sena and Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) had resorted to the Maharashtra versus Gujarat development plank during campaigning.
Mumbai’s Gujarati pockets of Borivli, Charkop, Malad, Ghatkopar, Napean Sea Road and Peddar Road saw a steady stream of young and old walking to the polling booths, apparently to vote for the BJP.
Even in Marathi dominated areas such as Parel, Dadar and Lalbaug, the Gujarati and Marwari community were rooting for Modi. “National parties must fight it alone. Modi is bringing about a change in the country, and the city, too, deserves something better,” said Pratik Mehta, 52, an entrepreneur at Charkop.
Though not as high as the Lok Sabha elections, the Gujarati voters came out in large numbers in Ghatkopar (East). More than 70% voting was recorded from this Assembly segment during the Lok Sabha polls. Modi had one of his election campaign rallies for five-time MLA Prakash Mehta, against whom congress also fielded Gujarati candidate and ex corporator Pravin Chheda.
Gujarati voters in south Mumbai expressed support for BJP’s Mangal Prabhat Lodha. “He has done so much work, we have always supported him,” said Sonal Shah, 42, a Warden Road resident. “We have known Lodha for so many years. He has been doing a lot of work for the area and for the Jain community. He understands what people want and is always accessible,” said Pradip Ghevaria, 54.
“I don’t know who my candidate is, but I have voted for the BJP,” said Subhash Solanki, a Parel resident. An ailing Manoj Patel, 65, a resident of Bajaj Road in Vile Parle, said, “I want to contribute to the formation of the BJP government in the state.”