In the busy and narrow street called Vadilal Gosaliya Road in Laljipada area, Kandivali (West), the locals were in for a surprise on Monday evening. Nearly 200 chairs were propped up on the road, and a party worker wielding the microphone announced that popular Bhojpuri actor-turned-politician Manoj Tiwari was soon to arrive. Within no time, a crowd descended onto the street waiting for the leader.The BJP’s Delhi unit president and Delhi Northeast MP Tiwari was visiting the area for the first time to campaign for Mumbai North constituency candidate Gopal Shetty.
Not only this, two more such sabhas were hosted in north Indian pockets of the constituency, at Rathodi, Marve Road, Malad (West); and Ganpat Patil Nagar, Link Road, Borivali (West). Tiwari, slated to arrive at 5 pm, was three hours late.
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He promised that the BJP government in power will ensure permanent housing, toilets and gas connections for each household. “By 2022, no one will be homeless,” he announced.
The Dehati Babu star, referring to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s, Shetty’s, and his own background, said, “Gareeb ka dard gareeb samajhta hai (Only the poor understand the poor).” He invoked memories of his village, recalling Modi’s work in building toilets.
Charging up the atmosphere by playing several Bhojpuri songs, he urged people to be “alert” and “vote for kamal” symbol on April 29, the day Mumbai goes to polls.
“I work for Modi,” he said, calling himself a chowkidar, and directed criticism at Congress chief Rahul Gandhi’s remark, ‘Chowkidar chor hai.’
Ward corporator Kamlesh Yadav and MLA Yogesh Sagar (Charkop Vidhan Sabha constituency), both belong to the BJP.
The population of north Indian voters in Mumbai North constituency is nearly 3.21 lakh. In the last five years, Shetty is credited to have worked in the area by making available a playground for organising religious and cultural events, construction of a garden and women’s welfare centre that equips women in stitching and knitting through three-month certificate courses.
Party workers said all locals in the area will refrain from visiting their villages before April 29. Congress candidate for the constituency, Urmila Matondkar, has, as part of her campaign rally, visited Laljipada and Ganpat Patil Nagar.
She is slated to visit Marve area on Wednesday and will be taking part in a public meeting at Rathodi the same day.
Jaisingh Chauhan, a native of Jaunpur, Uttar Pradesh, has been living in the area for the past 38 years now.
“My community members and I voted for Shetty last time too, and we have not been made to regret it. Our complaints have been looked after.”
The issues of permanent housing and water logging during the rainy season remain critical to the area.
Speaking of the Shiv Sena’s stand on the BJP’s initiatives to woo north Indians, Shiv Sena deputy leader and MHADA chairman Vinod Ghosalkar told The Indian Express, “We are not against north Indians. We have earlier made north Indian Sanjay Nirupam a Member of Parliament and Ghanshyam Dubey an MLA. There is no prohibition on doing business in Mumbai; we only wanted to keep north Indians from causing trouble to others here. They can live with discipline and in harmony.”