With the stage set for a tough fight between the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Congress in the Gujarat Assembly elections, to be held next month, both parties have deployed party leaders and workers from Mumbai to campaign and convince voters.
The BJP has already deployed around 100 sitting Gujarati-speaking MLAs, corporators and workers attached with minority and north Indian wings to Surat and other parts of the state, while the Congress’ Mumbai unit has announced that it will dispatch 200 workers in constituencies in southern Gujarat.
As the Congress mounts a serious challenge for the BJP in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s homeground, influential elected representatives from across Maharashtra, especially Mumbai, have been tasked with establishing contacts with voters in Gujarat.
BJP’s Mumbai unit chief Ashish Shelar is camped in Surat, 285 km from Maharashtra’s Capital, with workers from various wings of the party. Gujarati-speaking corporators from the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation, workers attached with the Uttar Bharatiya Morcha and the minority wing will be stationed in 16 constituencies in Surat and its rural outskirts.
Other Gujarati-speaking leaders from Mumbai, including Mangalprabhat Lodha, Raj Purohit, Yogesh Sagar and corporators such as Manoj Kotak, have been given the responsibility of other parts of Gujarat.
“The BJP’s Mumbai team has been asked to reach out to voters newly affiliated to the party through the missed call initiative implemented two years ago. The focus will be to get them out to vote voting in the first two hours on the day. The team from Mumbai has been asked to establish personal contact with them before the candidates are announced in the next couple of days. We have been able to deploy almost one worker per voter in these constituencies,” said a BJP leader from Mumbai, on condition of anonymity, adding that the pace and expertise of Mumbai leaders and workers will play a crucial role in Gujarat polls.
Congress’s Mumbai unit, led by Sanjay Nirupam, has announced that it is sending a team of 200 workers to tap voters in constituencies in the southern part of Gujarat. “Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi is getting increasing amount of support for the Gujarat elections. According to a survey, the gap between the voter support to BJP and us has reduced to 6% from the earlier 30%. Our workers will help convert this support to votes. We will be camped in the constituencies for next three weeks,” Nirupam said.