Amid the heat and dust of the Maharashtra Assembly elections, a small but politically significant battle is being fought between the allies-turned-opponents BJP and Shiv Sena over families from eastern Uttar Pradesh based in that state.
Both the parties have sent their leaders from eastern UP, comprising Pratapgarh, Jaunpur, Varanasi, Azamgarh, Sultanpur, Basti, Balrampur and Faizabad districts, to different Assembly constituencies in Maharashtra, especially Mumbai and Thane, where people from the northern state have been working for long and are registered as voters.
Both the parties are also canvassing door-to-door in eastern UP districts urging families here to ask their relatives in Maharashtra to vote for them.
BJP’s UP state general secretary (organisation) Sunil Bansal, who is also a close confidant of party’s national president Amit Shah’s, is camping in Mumbai for more than two weeks. Party’s UP president Laxmikant Bajpai said that more than 100 party workers from eastern UP are being sent to Maharashtra. “Around 50 of them will handle election management while others will meet the voters who belong to UP and appeal them to vote for BJP candidates. Some MLAs from UP will also go to Maharashtra for canvassing to ensure that BJP gives a tough fight to Shiv Sena in the constituencies falling in Mumbai, Thane and Pune,” Bajpai said.
BJP district president of Jaunpur Harishchandra Singh said he will leave for Mumbai along with over a dozen local senior party leaders on Sunday as “Jaunpur sends maximum people to Maharashtra as work force”.
Party sources said that over a dozen leaders have left for Mumbai from Varanasi, Lok Sabha constituency of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. “I have been asked to go to Kalyan and Thane areas. Varanasi mayor Ram Gopal Mohle will also canvass there because his grandparents belong to Maharashtra,” said Ashok Pandey, BJP spokesperson for Kashi region.
Shiv Sena, on the other hand, has already sent nearly 25 leaders from eastern UP to canvass in Mumbai and Thane. Anil Singh, UP Pramukh of Shiv Sena said he will leave for Mumbai on Monday and camp there till the end of polls. Singh will also join party president Uddhav Thackeray in some political meetings in areas where people from UP are voters.
Singh said senior Shiv Sena leader Gulab Dubey, who heads an organisation of North Indians in Maharashtra, is camping in his native district Jaunpur for past 12 days “to supervise canvassing among families who are voters in Maharashtra”.
“We also have to tell people that BJP and Shiv Sena are no more allies, We tell that that they should ask their relatives in Maharashtra to vote for Shiva Sena because only our party is focused on agenda of Hindutva and BJP has deviated from the issue,” Singh said.
He said his party also telling people that Shiv Sena is different from Raj Thackeray-led Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) “that misbehaves with north Indian”.