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Why Mumbai BJP is excited about Modi

Mumbai is the only place outside Gujarat where BJP enjoys mass support from the Gujaratis, reports Sweta Ramanujan-Dixit.

india Updated: Dec 26, 2007 02:02 IST
Sweta Ramanujan-Dixit

As it became clear that Narendra Modi would retain power in Gujarat, 500 km away in Mumbai, Pinki Dalal’s phone was ringing off the hook. Dalal, the editor of the city’s most popular Gujarati newspaper Mumbai Samachar, was taking calls from overjoyed Gujaratis across the city. “From astrologers to lay men, they all called to see whether we were taking note of Modi’s feat,” said Dalal. “The support he enjoys here is amazing.”

No wonder then that the Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP’s) Mumbai unit believes it will be among the biggest gainers from Modi’s win. This city of 42 lakh Gujaratis, mostly businessmen, diamond traders and share brokers, is the only place outside Gujarat where the party enjoys mass support from the community.

“I see positive factors for the BJP in Maharashtra and Rajasthan,” said Dalal.

Kirit Somaiya, former MP and fellow Gujarati, said: “Sometimes I feel he is more popular here than in Gujarat.” Somaiya is one of the two former Gujarati BJP MPs from Mumbai; Jaywantiben Mehta is the other.

Besides, 11 of the party’s 27 corporators are Gujaratis.

Modi had some help from the city BJP unit during his campaign; Somaiya and the party’s Mumbai chief Prakash Mehta led a team to help in the polls. On Tuesday, as Modi was being sworn in, the city BJP celebrated it as Vijay Divas (Victory Day).

Though the party denies it will cash in on Modi’s popularity here, it’s clear that it is hoping to do precisely that in the 2009 Assembly polls. “Modi’s win will have a huge impact here,” said Anand Shankar Pandya, president, Vande Mataram Foundation that felicitated him here in October. “It will strengthen the loyalty of Gujaratis towards the BJP.”