Wooing 'Poorvanchalis', BJP targets Kejriwal

Wooing 'Poorvanchalis', a substantial vote bank, seems to be high on BJP's agenda as Delhi heads to Assembly elections soon where it wants to capture power, which had eluded the saffron party since 1998.

With almost one-third of the population in the capital belonging to those who migrated from eastern Uttar Pradesh and Bihar and voters from this region accounting for over 40 lakh, the BJP has made its intentions clear by targeting Chief Minister and AAP supremo Arvind Kejriwal for his recent comments, which it claim is against the 'Poorvanchalis'.

Kejriwal's recent attack on BJP's Delhi chief Manoj Tiwari on National Register of Citizens (NRC) and comments that Delhi hospitals being stressed by an influx of patients from Bihar are being raked up by the saffron party ahead of the polls to corner the AAP and ensure their support as it happened during the Lok Sabha elections.

Attacking Tiwari for demanding NRC in Delhi, Kejriwal last week said that the BJP leader would be the first to leave if it is implemented in the capital.

Days later, Kejriwal said, "now, it so happens that a person from Bihar buys a (travel) ticket of Rs 500, reaches Delhi, gets free of cost operation worth Rs 5 lakh and returns. It gives joy that they are people of the country and they should get the treatment and be happy. But, Delhi has its capacity, how can it treat everyone in the country."

On both the occasions, the BJP held separate protests against Kejriwal, claiming his remarks hurt the feelings of 'Poorvanchalis'. Rajya Sabha MP Vijay Goel said that Kejriwal himself hails from Haryana and was settled in Uttar Pradesh's Ghaziabad.

AAP leaders insist that its opponent is raking up a non-issue as Kejriwal has not insulted anyone but highlighted the poor facilities in Bihar where the JD(U)-BJP government is in power. On Tiwari's comments on NRC, they said Tiwari was attempting at communal polarisation and creating a fear psychosis.

Earlier, Punjabis and Jats had a better say when it came to elections but over the years, Delhi's electoral geography had changed with the influx of migrants, especially from Bihar and eastern UP, and they have become a decisive factor.

Poorvanchalis were earlier dominant in East and Northeast Delhi but now they have become a major force in West and South West Delhi too.

The Congress had managed to cultivate 'Poorvanchalis' with then Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit nurturing the vote-bank with the help of Mahabal Mishra, a 'Poorvanchali', and won three consecutive terms till 2013, keeping the BJP away.

When the Congress withered away in the capital in an AAP 'Tsunami' in 2013, 'Poorvanchalis' shifted their loyalty enmasse to the Kejriwal-led party while BJP could not capitalise.

The AAP managed to get around a dozen 'Poorvanchalis' in the Assembly in 2015 Assembly elections and increased its hold over the community.

With the electoral arithmetic changing, the BJP appointed a 'Poorvanchali', the Bhojpuri actor-turned MP Tiwari, to tap the voters from the region while keeping Punjabis and Jats, who held the key to election victories, happy.

The appointment of Tiwari and wooing of 'Poorvanchalis' could be gauged from the fact that BJP had fielded only two candidates in 2008.

Last October, the BJP even organised a 'Poorvanchali Mahakumb' in the capital keeping the Lok Sabha elections in mind.

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