Mumbai civic polls: Parties leaving no stone unturned to tap into rival’s traditional vote bank | mumbai news | Hindustan Times
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Mumbai civic polls: Parties leaving no stone unturned to tap into rival’s traditional vote bank

From inducting community leaders to holding community specific gatherings, parties are doing everything they can to woo voters ahead of the 2017 BMC polls...

mumbai Updated: Jan 03, 2017 09:55 IST
Surendra P Gangan
With civic elections just round the corner, political parties have started wooing electorate on the basis of caste and religion
With civic elections just round the corner, political parties have started wooing electorate on the basis of caste and religion(HT file photo)

With civic elections just round the corner, political parties have started wooing electorate on the basis of caste and religion. Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) and Congress are already organising rallies for the north Indian community, the second largest in the city, and at the same time trying to please the Marathi manoos.

North Indians constitute more than 20 % of the city’s population, the second largest community after the Marathi speaking voters, which is less than 30%. While BJP organised a Bati-Chokha sammelan in the presence of party’s Delhi unit president and noted Bhojpuri singer Manoj Tiwari and Maharashtra chief minister Devendra Fadnavis in Goregaon two weeks ago, the Congress announced a rally for north Indians on January 3.

Congress has announced sops for community if elected to power during rally that will be attended by its popular faces in north India such as Raj Babbar, Ajay Rai and actor Ravi Kishan. The party has also scheduled a gathering of Marathi speaking voters from Konkan for the upcoming week.

“North Indians today expect a sense of security, which is lacking in their daily life in the city. Mostly in small-time business activities of hawking and driving, they feel most vulnerable in terms of social security. None of the parties hadone anything firm for the community, which is currently in the confused over lending its political support,” said Anand Shukla, president of Uttar Bhartiya Ekta Manch.

Mumbai Congress chief Sanjay Nirupam said, “We will come out with the firm programme for the north Indians. We have been demanding implementation of the hawkers policy, which has been put on the back-burner despite being passed. North Indians are our traditional voters.”

Meanwhile, the BJP is eyeing the dalit votes by banking on the projects named after Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar. Similarly, Congress, AIMIM, Samajwadi Party and several others will also attempt to woo the Muslim electorate.

“BJP has been systematically tapping all sections of the voters in the city. By inducting RN Singh, a north Indian leader as its legislative council member and holding rallies, it is trying tried to make inroads in north Indian pockets in the city. It had supported the Maratha bike rally by ‘all possible means’ last month and now is organising an OBC parishad, on January 3, to cash encash on the government’s decision to create a separate OBC department. Before that, our dalit face and legislator Bhai Girkar had organised processions of Bhim Rath in dalit pockets after the bhoomipujan of Dr Ambedkar memorial was done by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in October 2015. Barring Muslims, our party has reached to almost all sections in the city,” said a BJP functionary.

The party is now planning to cash on the announcement of the launch of Bharat Interface for Money (BHIM ) app, which it says is a tribute to Dr BA Ambedkar by naming it after him.

“It is a big development, as an important interface system is directly named after Dr Ambedkar and it will help us in the wooing the voters in Mumbai and Maharashtra too. Though the common people from the community has suffered a lot due to the demonetisation, the BJP has emerged as a strong alternative before dalit voters,” said Avinash Mahatekar, leader of Republican Party of India (A), a BJP ally.

BJP Mumbai chief Ashish Shelar said, “We believe in ‘Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikaas’ and we have been projecting only those things which have been done. I’m sure that we will get support from all the communities as we have done work for all of them.”

Shiv Sena too inducted eight to nine leaders from various castes of Gujarati speaking population in Mumbai. Hemraj Shah, one of them, said the Sena is slowly shedding its ‘rowdy’ image and people from his community are slowing being attracted towards the party.

The move came after Sena’s ally BJP tried to tap into its traditional, Marathi speaking, vote bank by organising rallies for Mumbaiites originally from the Konkan belt and actively supporting festivities such as Dahi Handi and Ganesh festivals. The Sena leaders believes that the trading community in Mumbai, which is largely Gujarati, is unhappy with demonetisation and this could be right time woo the disgruntled traders.

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