AAP, BJP up the ante to woo Purvanchali voters
The ruling Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) and the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) are trying to woo the Purvanchalis in the national capital as they gear up for the Assembly polls.
Purvanchalis -- the people from eastern UP and western Bihar -- are considered to be about one-third of Delhi's total population and have strong presence in about 25-30 Assembly seats.
The AAP launched a campaign on October 6 called 'Aapan Purvanchal', which is aimed at connecting with people of Purvanchal. During the campaign, which will continue till November 20, the AAP is explaining Purvanchali voters the good work done by the Arvind Kejriwal government for them.
AAP Rajya Sabha member Sanjay Singh said the AAP government had laid new sewer lines in around 500 colonies, constructed roads and spent over Rs 1,000 crore on development projects in areas inhabited by Purvanchalis.
The Kejriwal government had raised the number of ghats from 72 to 1,200 to facilitate celebration of Chhath -- one of the biggest festivals of Purvanchalis, he added.
BJP Delhi unit chief Manoj Tiwari, a Bhojpuri singer-turned-politician, has been approaching Purvanchalis and telling them that the AAP is humiliating people of Bihar and UP because of its enmity with Tiwari.
Last month, Kejriwal sparked a controversy with his remark that people from Bihar were getting free medical treatment here. Tiwari had then accused him of showing hate for the people from Purvanchal.
Kejriwal, while praising his government's health schemes, said despite the massive expansion of public healthcare infrastructure in Delhi, some hospitals were witnessing overcrowding as the people from across the country were coming to Delhi to access healthcare.
"Today, someone from Bihar can take a Rs 500 ticket to the capital, get free treatment in our hospitals and return happily. It's a matter of great pride and happiness for us that the people of the entire country are confident about Delhi government hospitals," said Kejriwal.
Calling the statement shameful, Tiwari said Kejriwal had been targeting Purvanchalis. "This is an example of Kejriwal's hate and dislike for people from other states, particularly Purvanchalis."
As the politics over the Purvanchalis intensified, AAP leaders came out in Kejriwal's support and attacked the BJP and claimed the BJP-ruled states were killing and throwing out the people from UP and Bihar. "Now their leaders are claiming to care and think about Purvanchalis."
Singh said in Gujarat and Maharashtra, the BJP had disturbed the lives of people from Bihar and UP. "Thousands of Purvanchalis were thrashed and thrown out of Surat and Ahmedabad. There was no word from the Prime Minister, or the Home Minister or Tiwari."
He said AAP's state president Gopal Rai was from Purvanchal and the party had several ministers from the area. Singh said 13 MLAs of the AAP were from Purvanchal.
A few days later, the AAP announced the 'Aapan Purvanchal' scheme.
In July, the Delhi government announced introduction of Maithili as optional subject from Class VIII to XII in the government schools, and also said it would arrange free coaching for students taking Maithili as optional subject in the civil services examinations.
It also announced steps to have a font for Maithili (There is no font for Maithili at present) and said the government was in touch with Pune-based C-DAC for it.
The government also decided to felicitate Maithil and Bhojpuri people. "Now, there will be awards for those who work for Maithili and Bhojpuri arts, culture, journalism, theatre, etc," said Art and Culture Minister Manish Sisodia.
This year, a five-day Maithili-Bhojpuri -- two most prominent languages of Bihar -- festival will be held in Connaught Place.
The AAP is making special arrangements for celebration of Chhath in the national capital. Since assuming the office in 2014, the AAP has been declaring holiday on the occasion of Chhat.
However, both the parties refused to accept that they are trying to woo Purvanchali voters.
While the AAP said it was "just connecting with its voters", the BJP is confident of its leader Tiwari.
"This is not just for elections or vote bank. We respect people of all states and areas. We are running the 'Aapan Purvanchal' campaign to connect with voters," an AAP leader told IANS.
On the other hand, a BJP leader said, "The AAP is trying to fool the people of that belt. It's claims of working for their upliftment are fake. The Purvanchalis have supported Tiwari since 2014, and they will do that even this time."
The Congress too is not far behind. One of the frontrunner for the Delhi Congress chief's post, Kirti Azad attacked both Kejriwal and Tiwari or their recent remarks on immigrants from Purvanchal.
The cricketer-turned-politician, hailing from Bihar, said the public will teach a lesson to both.
The tenure of Kejriwal will end in February 2020.IANS