Fadnavis woos north Indians ahead of high-stakes BMC polls

Mumbai: Reaching out to North Indians ahead of the BMC polls next year, Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis today said people from that region and other parts of the country, who reside in the state have not only imbibed Maharashtra’s culture, but have also enriched it.

“Whenever a north Indian asks me where his place was in the state, I reply to him with a song – ‘Najar ke samne, jigar ke pass koi rahta hai wo tum’…,” Fadnavis said to a round of applause.

The Chief Minister, who started off his speech in Bhojpuri, said, “Maharashtra shares a very old and lasting bond with the Uttar Pradesh and this is the reason Maharashtra has always given due respect to all the North Indians, as it has given to the people belonging to rest of the country.”

Fadnavi was speaking at ‘Baati-Chokha’, a public dinner programme with traditional north Indian menu, organised by BJP at suburban Goregaon.

“Uttar Pradesh is the land of Lord Ram and Krishna. Wherever Lord Ram visited in the Maharashtra during his exile, it became places of worship and we all have maintained our immense respect and faith to those places,” he said.

Not only this, centuries ago at the time of Shivaji Maharaj’s coronation, a brahmin from Uttar Pradesh was called in and he completed all the rituals, he added. “People coming in from all the states, including UP, have not only adopted Maharashtra’s culture, but also enriched it,” he said.

Taking potshots at Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav, Fadnavis said, “Those who made tall promises about transforming Uttar Pradesh into ‘Uttam Pradesh’ have miserably failed to do so. But now it would be done only under the able leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modiji.”

The BJP’s event is being seen as an aggressive way to woo ‘Uttar Bhartiyas’ as they form 28 per cent vote share in Mumbai. The outreach has another objective with forthcoming Assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh, due next year. BMC has been ruled by Shiv Sena, which plays its agenda of ‘sons-of-soil’ vs ‘outsiders’, with the BJP as a junior partner for over two decades.

Baati-Chokha is a traditional north Indian dish. While ‘baati’ consists of wheat and sattu (powdered roasted blackgrams) formed into balls with spices, and then dipped in ghee (clarified butter) ‘chokha’ is a dip prepared by mashing boiled potatoes, tomatoes and eggplant together with some spices.

City BJP chief Ashish Shelar, senior leader of Mumbai BJP and general secretary Amarjeet Mishra, Vice president of Mumbai BJP Sanjay Upadhyay along with other leaders were present. Mumbai BJP general secretary Amarjeet Mishra, who often organises such events for North Indians, said,

“The work that chief minister of Uttar Pradesh didn’t and couldn’t do here in Mumbai (to connect with the North Indians), is being done by Devendraji.”