Sticking to its campaign strategy to make a play for the city’s cosmopolitan vote bank, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has handed over nearly 73 tickets to non-Marathi candidates.
This includes eight tickets given to minorities, including six to Muslims and two to Christians. A majority of the party’s contestants, however, will continue to be Marathi, with nearly 122 Marathi candidates zeroed in in the final list that dramatically got released on wee hours of Friday morning at 2.30am.
The party has also given precedence to women candidates (117), fielding them over and above the reserved 50% quota.
Sources told HT a majority of candidates were selected on the basis of a ward-wise survey done to identity winnable candidates. “CM Devendra Fadnavis has scrutinized the list and in majority of cases, the results of the survey were taken into consideration before finalizing or even poaching a candidate,” said a party functionary.
While the party finalized 195 candidates, it is likely that after seat-sharing with its allies, including Republican Party of India, gets finalized, the list may come to 192 candidates. The party will leave anything between 35 and 37 seats for allies, including RPI, Rashtriya Samaj Paksha and Shiv Sangram.
With the alliance, the BJP hopes to pocket Dalit votes, represented by RPI, besides Dhangar and Maratha votes in the city represented by the RSP and Shiv Sangram respectively, even if the candidates of these parties don’t win any seats. “The selection of candidates is in line with our overall party vision of being inclusive. We have given near equal number of seats to Gujarati and North Indian community, even as 120-odd seats have been kept for Marathi candidates. Those who were from outside our party were carefully selected for specific seats,” said BJP city chief Ashish Shelar.
While nearly 20-odd candidates, who got tickets were borrowed from other parties, a similar number of candidates were among family members of party leaders or workers. For instance, the party handed over tickets to five tickets to Sena corporators and workers inducted this week. For instance Sena corporator Dinesh Panchal and his wife Anita Panchal, senior Sena leader Prabhakar Shinde, Yuva Sena worker Swapnil Yerunkar, Tejaswini Ambole (wife of Sena corporator Nana Ambole) all were given tickets in their strongholds.