Days after Gujarat Chief Minister Anandi Patel attempted to woo investors away from the country’s “congested” financial capital, senior BJP leader and Rajasthan CM Vasundhara Raje on Monday sought to hardsell her Rajasthan model in Mumbai, saying her state was ahead of Maharashtra.
Addressing a rally in pre-dominantly Marwari area of Khetwadi in Malabar Hill, Raje also spoke of how Rajasthani migrants have “contributed to the development” of Mumbai. “You have played a significant role in Mumbai and in the state’s economy. In my two days of campaigning, I noticed that Rajasthan is ahead of Maharashtra,” she said.
Raje was speaking to a crowd mainly comprising migrant population from Rajasthan. She made a special mention of the metal trade, which involves the community.
The Rajasthan CM was in the city to campaign for BJP candidates Atul Shah, contesting from Mumbadevi, and Mangal Prabhat Lodha, the sitting MLA from the Malabar Hill Assembly constituency. The Malabar Hill pocket has a large chunk of metal traders, a majority of them Marwaris concentrated in Girgaon, Khetwadi and Kamathipura areas. The Rajasthani footprint is very strong in metals trade, stock market, real estate, textiles and controls thousands of small and medium units in and around Mumbai-Thane.
“In my campaigning across the state, I found farmers are suffering from water scarcity. While it is said that a minister is building dams and canals, no water is reaching out to farmers for irrigation,” she said, without taking names.
However, Raje’s speech drew criticism from Congress and Shiv Sena leaders from the area, who accused her of “polarising” voters.
Congress candidate for Malabar Hill Susieben Shah said, “Polarising on the basis of communities like Gujarati, Marathi or Marwari is condemnable and BJP should stop doing that. As far as development is concerned, Maharashtra surpasses other states.”
Shiv Sena MP for South Mumbai Arvind Sawant also condemned Raje’s speech. “This is divisional politics. Marwaris have come from Rajasthan to live here and they are all Maharashtrians now. Mumbai is the financial capital. But if she thinks Rajasthan is a better state, she can take them back to her state.”
Backing Raje’s comments, BJP spokesperson Madhav Bhandari said, “Her speech was not an attempt to polarise. We have been sending senior leaders to areas according to the area’s demographics. For Gujaratis, we had sent a Gujarati leader and for Marwaris, we have sent her [Raje]. BJP never indulges in polarisation.”