Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi’s three-day fast for ‘peace’ in Ahmedabad had far-reaching political implications in Mumbai.
Modi’s party, BJP, is in alliance with the Shiv Sena in Maharashtra while the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) led by Raj Thackeray is Sena’s rival in the state politics.
But with an eye on next year’s municipal elections, both Sena and MNS were busy scrambling to appease Modi, which will go a long way in helping the two parties woo more than 30-lakh Gujaratis in the city. Gujaratis, who are mostly engaged in business, form about 20% of the voters in the city and by winning their support, both parties aim to consolidate their electoral base before the civic polls.
Both the parties backed Modi’s sadbhavna fast, and indirectly extended support to his candidature for the prime minister’s post in the next general elections. While Shiv Sena extended its support to Gujarat CM on the first day of his three-day-long fast by sending party MPs Bharatkumar Raut and Anant Geete to meet Modi, MNS chief Raj Thackeray went to Ahmedabad on Monday to support Modi’s cause.
Geete attributed Modi’s fast as a mission that would give the country a new direction. “For the first time in this country, a chief minister is observing fast for peace and harmony in the state. This will pave way for India’s future,” Geete said on Saturday.
However, Raj was more direct and said he welcomed Modi as a prime ministerial candidate.
“At this point, I do not see any suitable candidate except Narendra Modi for the post. I would like to see him as the prime minister,” said Raj. “He does not need anyone’s certificate and even America had said so (in the US cables leaked by Wikileaks),” said Raj.
However, Sena mouthpiece Saamna came down heavily on BJP opposition leader Eknath Khadse for his speech at Ahmedabad. “Khadse said that Maharashtra’s development falls short when compared with that of Gujarat. He added that Gujarat is light and Maharashtra is darkness. Even if this is true, a leader from Maharashtra should refrain from speaking ill about his state,” the editorial said.