Raj Thackeray's ten-day visit to Gujarat and with his handsome praise of chief minister Narendra Modi is likely to benefit him in the forthcoming civic polls, especially among the Gujarati voters who form a substantial part of the electorate.
The reason - The Gujarati community in the city has been die-hard fans of Modi: many of his policies have benefited their native towns in a big way. Analysts feel that the visit would be beneficial for Thackeray.
As Tushar Shukla, a real estate broker hailing from Jamnagar said, "I really felt happy that such an important leader like Raj Thackeray was praising my state. I may consider voting for him," said Shukla.
"There would be some shift of Gujarati voters towards Thackeray. There is also a chance of Hindutva votes being diverted to him," said Prakash Bal, veteran political analyst.
According to Venkatesh Kumar, political analyst, Thackeray has a two-fold strategy in place. "Modi is looked upon as an icon among the Gujarati people and Thackeray is trying to exploit this very subtly," said Kumar. "Raj also realises that Modi has a major say in BJP at the national level and he is exploring a long term relationship with him," added Kumar.
However, Raj Thackeray dismisses any such political motives. "My only motive is to see for myself the developmental work carried out by the Gujarat government and there is a need to look beyond narrow political considerations," said Thackeray.
Gujarati voters play a decisive role in many of the areas like Kalbadevi, Mumbadevi, Girguam, Chira Bazar, Matunga, Malad, Kandivli and Borivli and have been strong supporters of the BJP.
The party, however, dismisses any such challenge to its vote bank. "Gujarati's may have sympathy for Raj Thackeray for praising Modi but when it comes to voting, they are fully aware that the BJP government led by Modi has ushered in a good governance there," said Yogesh Sagar, BJP legislator from Malad, a Gujarati stronghold.