New Delhi: Both the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Congress have largely ignored North Indian leaders in the distribution of tickets for the upcoming Maharashtra Assembly elections.
This is unlike the 2014 state Assembly polls in which the Congress fielded more than a dozen north Indian candidates and the BJP gave tickets to four — Vidya Thakur, Mohit Kamboj, Amarjeet Singh, and Sunil Yadav.
This time, the BJP has named just three north Indian candidates — Ramesh Thakur from Malad West, Vidya Thakur from Goregaon, and Mangal Prabhat Lodha from Malabar Hill.
And the Congress has given tickets to only five Hindi speaking candidates, Anand Shukla, editor of Yashobhumi newspaper from Ghatkopar West, Ajanta Yadav from Kandivali East, Govind Singh from Mulund, Aslam Sheik from Malad West and Naseem Khan from Chandiwali.
“The BJP and the Shiv Sena fought the last Assembly elections on their own which gave each enough scope to field candidates wherever it wanted to. The two parties are fighting this election as an alliance and both have an almost equal number of seats in the 36 north Indian dominated areas of Mumbai,” said Vijay Singh Kaushik, a senior journalist.
“There were expectations that the Congress would field more north Indian faces in order to win back its traditional north Indian vote bank. But it hasn’t, probably realizing that those voters have aligned with the BJP now,” Kaushik added.
Hindi-speaking migrants from Bihar and Uttar Pradesh into Mumbai and its suburban towns make up a huge chunk of voters (nearly 40 lakh) in Maharashtra. Though Congress voters traditionally, they switched to the BJP after 2014 following the advent of Narendra Modi.
Not just the voters, many north Indian leaders too have left the Congress and are either taking up better options or are in search of them. While former Congress MLAs Rajhans Singh and Ramesh Singh are now with the BJP, former MPCC chief and state Minister Kripashankar Singh quit the party last month.