Minority outreach: Uddhav’s plan to woo Palghar
For the Sena, which got the Palghar parliamentary seat from the quota of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) as a part of the alliance deal, the seat has now become a matter of prestige. According to Sena leaders, the party is “building on” from its experience during the 2018 by-election there.Updated: Apr 02, 2019 08:14 IST
After pitching a hard-line Hindutva stance before the Lok Sabha elections, Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray will now reach out to Catholics and other religious minorities in Vasai-Virar region, which falls in the Palghar Lok Sabha constituency. Thackeray, who will be on a two-day tour of Palghar starting Tuesday, will visit the Vasai Gurdwara and meet Archbishop Felix Machado, the Archbishop of Vasai.
For the Sena, which got the Palghar parliamentary seat from the quota of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) as a part of the alliance deal, the seat has now become a matter of prestige. According to Sena leaders, the party is “building on” from its experience during the 2018 by-election there. Vasai-Virar and the tribal pockets of Palghar district have a considerable Catholic population — who are not traditional voters of the BJP. Thackeray in the past 10 months has raked the Ram Temple issue vociferously and even called for immediate construction of a grand temple at the disputed site in Ayodhya.
“Uddhavji will interact will all sections during his tour, not just the Catholics or Sikhs. We have tasted success in the 2018 by-poll. All the 23 seats that we are contesting are important to us,” said Anil Desai, party secretary. According to Sena leaders, Thackeray will go to around 30 spots between Vasai and Talasari in Palghar district. The tour assumes significance as Sena is working hard to wrest control over the seat that is geographically, economically and socially diverse. He is slated to start his tour from Nalla Sopara, Vasai and Virar, which are known to be strongholds of Hitendra Thakur’s Bahujan Vikas Aghadi (BVA).
In the 2018 by-poll, the Sena was pitted against the BJP, BVA and Congress. Its candidate came a close second to BJP’s Rajendra Gavit. According to the results, both the Sena and BJP took a hit in votes in Vasai and Nalla Sopara Assembly constituencies. “Thakur’s party holds sway in the two Assembly constituencies and an extensive visit in the constituency is aimed at building from our performance,” said a party functionary.
Father Richard Dabre, secretary to Archbishop Machado, confirmed that Thackeray will meet the leader on Tuesday. He said, “Uddhav Thackeray will meet Archbishop Machado at 11 am. It is a cordial visit because the elections are announced. Leaders from all political parties visit the Archbishop to seek his blessings when they are in Vasai,” Father Dabre said.