Politicians to actor: To woo Mumbai’s north Indians
From Union defence minister Rajnath Singh, Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath to popular Bhojpuri actor Nirahua, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has lined up several star campaigners to woo north Indian voters in half a dozen constituencies in north Mumbai.
On Monday, Rajnath Singh addressed a rally at Charkop, while UP deputy chief minister Keshav Prasad Maurya participated in Baati-Chokha (a traditional north Indian dish) function at Dahisar. On Thursday, Adityanath addressed a rally at Kandivli. Bhojpuri actor Dinesh Lal Yadav or Nirahua also wooed voters in the same constituency, while another actor Ravi Kishan will campaign at Malad and Magathane in the coming days.
Mumbai north, which includes six Assembly segments, Dahisar, Borivali, Kandivli, Charkop, Magathane and Malad, has nearly 12% north Indian voters. A large number of them are concentrated in areas such as Laljipada, Ganpat Patil Nagar and Vadarpada, which are massive slum settlements in Dahisar and Kandivli. In close contests, these voters could tilt the balance in a particular party’s favour.
While the voters in these pockets were traditionally Congress supporters, the BJP has made inroads since 2014.
Party insiders said that bringing in these people was an attempt to make the north Indian voters feel at home. “A large number of north Indian migrants have made these suburbs their home over the past several years. Seeing the leaders and famous personalities from their state make them feel safe, helping the party gain their confidence,” said a local BJP worker. “This posturing works for two reasons. One, the Congress has majorly disappointed them by not doing any significant work. Second, a rift between the Congress leadership has had an impact. Leaders like Sanjay Nirupam, who otherwise got the support of the community, have an issue with their own party, which eventually affects the way these voters think,” said political analyst Surendra Jondhale.
Ramesh Mishra, who lives in a slum colony in Kandivli, said even those who do not support the BJP are now confused about whom to vote for. “We are not in favour of the BJP as we see no work is being done even by their MLAs. But what other option do we have? The Congress does not have any prominent face we can bank on,” he said.
Sunil Yadav, president of BJP’s Uttar Bhartiya Morcha, said, “We are confident about getting support from north Indian voters across Mumbai. People have seen the work that has been done under the state over the past five years and are impressed with it.”
The BJP has also been careful not to antagonise Maharashtrian voters. Speaking on Thursday at a rally in Kandivli, UP CM Adityanath insisted that UP and Maharashtra have an old and steady relationship.
“Even in the coronation of Shivaji Maharaj, there was a priest from Kashi- Gagabhatt, which shows how the ties between these two states have existed historically”.
He also urged the voters in the constituency to bring the saffron alliance to power, after which they were given an open invitation to come to Allahabad to celebrate Diwali.