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Maharashtra adds to campaign colour

india Updated: Dec 13, 2007 00:21 IST
Sarita Kaushik

Politicians from Maharashtra have been harnessed in large numbers by the Congress and the BJP to woo votes from the Maharashtrians living in Gujarat.

Maharashtra Chief Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh addressed eight meetings in south Gujarat which went to polls on Tuesday. He was back in central Gujarat, in Vadodara, which votes on December 16, on Wednesday. Both these areas have large concentration of Maharashtrians, the first due to its proximity to the state, the second because it was once ruled by the Gaekwad maharajas. Deputy Chief Minister R. R. Patil, too, has followed in Deshmukh’s wake.

Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi may have been reluctant to have too many central leaders in the campaign, but he seemed to have no such reservation about leaders from Maharashtra. Led by Maharashtra BJP president Nitin Gadkari, a host of MLAs, corporators and state unit office bearers have been camping in Gujarat for days on end. And they were not the only ones. “The BJP has a good deal of support among the diamond merchants and other traders in Mumbai, a majority of whom are Gujaratis,” said Gadkari. “These are influential people in their villages in Gujarat.” So the BJP ferried them across from Mumbai to their respective areas of influence to campaign.

There are around 16,000 Maharashtrian votes in Ahmedabad city. Not surprisingly both Gadkari and BJP leader Gopinath Munde have campaigned aggressively in the capital too.

From the Congress, Kripa Shankar Singh was active, camping in Gujarat for 18 days. “More than 300 people from Mumbai worked for the Congress in south Gujarat alone,” he said. “Some 18 MLAs, 12 ex-MLAs and several ministers came down to help out in various ways.”