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Old August 26th, 2010, 10:14 PM
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Talking Marathi vs non-Marathi battle brews in BJP

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Marathi vs non-Marathi battle brews in BJP

By: Varun Singh Date: 2010-08-27 Place: Mumbai

Post for Mumbai chief creates divide in party, with a faction lobbying to promote Marathi candidate, but the other is the clear favourite


(PHOTO: TOP CONTENDERS: Raj Purohit (left) and Ashish Shelar)

It is Marathi versus non-Marathi for the post of the Mumbai Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) chief. And while having a non-Marathi leader has never been a matter of debate for the BJP, it's now creating cracks within the party.

The two prominent contenders for the post are Bandra corporator Ashish Shelar and Colaba MLA Raj Purohit. While there is a strong lobby backed by a top-rung Marathi leader rooting for Shelar, there are others who feel that Purohit is the best choice for the post.

If party insiders are to be believed, it is the non-Marathi candidate who will have the last laugh. A national executive committee member of BJP, said, "BJP voters in Mumbai are the non-Marathis. Our vote bank here comprises the Hindi-speaking Gujaratis, Marwaris and the north Indians. Hence for us, it hardly matters whether we have a Maharashtrian as our president."

"What we need is an experienced leader and Purohit is in the party for longer than other candidates. He deserves the post," he added.

Marathi backing
But those backing Shelar feel that it's time BJP woos the Marathi vote bank. "A Marathi president will help lure Maharashtrians in the state. We will be able to attract more voters apart from the regular non-Marathi supporters. We have already had a non-Marathi president, but it was of no great help," said a leader supporting Shelar.

While the differences within the party are far from being resolved, Purohit seems to be confident of his victory. "I am one of the candidates for the president's post and I am one of the seniormost in the party. I will like to be the chief of the Mumbai unit," he told MiD DAY.

According to the Colaba MLA, the divide between the Marathis and non-Marathis has little effect on the BJP.

"Being a Marathi or a non-Marathi doesn't matter for our party. There have been so many non-Marathi presidents in the Congress and NCP as well. People talking about regionalism are emphaisising on issues that are of no consequence," said Purohit.

"I have worked at all levels and now want to work at a higher level as well. Even if someone else is elected I will work under him and give my full support."

Ashish Shelar denied that he is a contender for the post. He said, "I will go with whatever the party decides."

The new Mumbai president will be announced shortly after the BJP's executive members hold a special meeting on September 1. The new chief will take over from the current president Gopal Shetty who was appointed in 2008.

Non-Marathi heads of political parties
Congress: Kripashankar Singh, Gurudas Kamat, Murli Deora
NCP: Narendra Shukla
BJP: Gopal Shetty

Who will choose the president?
Venkaiah Naidu, in-charge for the Maharashtra unit of the BJP, will be in Mumbai after September 1. He will decide the process of election and the selection of the BJP candidate.

According to BJP insiders, the party functionaries at the state level and national level from Mumbai along with the BJP Mumbai members will vote for the president. By the first week of September the results are expected to be out.

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Old August 26th, 2010, 10:36 PM
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Re: Marathi vs non-Marathi battle brews in BJP

Maharashtra has given 10 out of 26 seats which BJP contested to BJP, made it principal opposition party. U.P gave only 10 seats out of 75.

So any day BJP should give preference to Maharashtra.
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