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Leaders from center to campaign for local polls

Big money draws big name for the campaigning of the BMC elections, reports Sanjeev Shivadekar.

india Updated: Oct 28, 2006 20:04 IST

Big money draws big name for the campaigning of the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) elections scheduled early next year.

Congress who is out of power in the cash rich civic body for more than 15 years, in its attempt to get hold of the BMC is making an effort to encash party President Sonia Gandhi’s popularity into vote bank. The party has planned her rally for the forthcoming civic polls.

On the other hand, rival Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has plans to rope in Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi and party president Rajnath Singh to woo Gujarathi and North Indian voters respectively as they have large presence in the city.

State Congress does not have any star campaigners to win over Mumbai’s electorate. The party is gearing up for the polls but looking to president Sonia Gandhi to campaign in the city to win the prestigious municipal body.

On the hand, BJP after Pramod Mahajan, too, is not sure that its local leaders would be in a position to bring votes to the party.

In fact, BJP’s poll planners have chalked out a strategy to win more seats from suburbs that will decide the result of the elections. The census of 2001 has shown that the population in suburbs has gone up to 88 lakhs from 74 lakhs in the early nineties. That is why, the BJP wants Modi to campaign in Gujarati dominates pockets in eastern and western suburbs and Singh in western suburbs where North Indians have strong presence.

“Our star campaigners like LK Advani, Sushma Swaraj, Narendra Modi will definitely participate in the prestigious BMC elections,” said party spokesperson Vinod Tawde. Both the BJP and its alliance partner Shiv Sena have also realized that they will have to contest jointly to retain control of the BMC.

Interestingly, BJP state president Nitin Gadkari on Friday made it clear that his party’s alliance with the Shiv Sena is intact.

At a meeting of nearly 600 party representatives heading polling booths in northeast Mumbai, Gadkari reiterated that the BJP-Sena alliance was beyond the municipal elections. “This alliance is for Hindutva,” he said. “We must ensure that the saffron flag flutters atop the corporation.”

The meeting was called by Pramod Shirvalkar, BJP’s district president from Mumbai north-east. On Wednesday, Shirvalkar had said that party workers in his district were not keen on joining hands with the Sena for the forthcoming civic polls and that Friday’s meeting would be used to convey this to the party’s senior leaders.

However, Gadkari slammed Shirvalkar’s move saying that nobody should say or do anything to harm the party. “Leave the decisions regarding seats to the leaders,” Gadkari said.

First Published: Oct 28, 2006 20:04 IST