The saffron party is inducting Marathi leaders to woo local voters ahead of BMC election.
With an eye on the 2017 Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation election the BJP is playing the Marathi card to lure local voters. BJP is keen to wrest the control of the civic body from Shiv Sena which has always projected itself as a protector of Marathi voters. The party had already appointed Marathi leaders as the head of four district teams in the city. BMC election is an acid test for the saffron party after it had to face defeat in various civic body election and gram panchayat polls. Thus BJP is following the footsteps of Shiv Sena and MNS for attracting Marathi voters.
BJP had always relied on Gujarati, Jain and North Indian votes for gaining its foothold in the city. The party had appointed non-Marathi leaders like Gopal Shetty, Raj Purohit and Kirit Somaiya for holding key positions like Mumbai BJP President and secretary. However, of late the saffron party has changed its stand and has given preference to local candidate like Ashish Shelar who has been appointed as the Mumbai unit chief. Suhas Adivrekar and Sidhharth Sonu Gamre have been appointed as the head of North Central Mumbai and South Mumbai district teams. Abhijit Samant and Anil Thakur have been appointed as the head of North West Mumbai and South Central Mumbai district team.
A source from BJP said on the condition of anonymity, “We have inducted new faces and have given preference to local candidates. These changes have been made keeping in mind Marathi voters. Our aim is to divide Marathi votes through which Shiv Sena has been coming to power in the BMC. “
On the other hand, Gujarati, Marwadi and north Indian voters are considered as the traditional vote bank of BJP.
BJP Mumbai unit chief Ashish Shelar said, “BJP has always worked hard for the development of Mumbai city. We are also trying to fast track the construction of Metro but our alliance partner is trying to stall it. They have been indulging in corruption in awarding contracts for the construction of roads and sewage projects.”
Even though BJP is having an alliance with Shiv Sena in Maharashtra but both the parties are at loggerheads with each other over various issues. Shiv Sena’s ideology is based on Marathi nationalism and Hindu nationalism (Hindutva), founded on 19 June 1966 by political cartoonist Bal Thackeray. The party originally emerged from a movement in Mumbai demanding preferential treatment for Maharashtrians over migrants to the city.