The polling in Mumbai may have ended, but candidates and politicians from national parties are not willing to call it a day. Politicians and candidates from parties like BJP, Congress and the Samajwadi Party who hail from states like Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar have headed there to campaign for their parties, and so are major state leaders from Maharashtra.
BJP leaders said state party chief Devendra Fadnavis had campaigned in states like Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh, which have Marathi speakers and organic and cultural links with neighbouring parts of Maharashtra, while former national president Nitin Gadkari, who contested from Nagpur, former deputy chief minister and the party's Lok Sabha MP from Beed in Marathwada, Gopinath Munde, leaders of the opposition in the state legislature Eknath Khadse and Vinod Tawade were also expected to head to other states.
"Apart from campaigning, we also help in overall management and back-office operations, which gives local leaders and activists time to work in the field," said a BJP leader.
Cities in North India like Varanasi, where the BJP's prime ministerial nominee Narendra Modi is contesting from, have a sprinkling of Maharashtrians and links with Maharashtra which grew stronger since the days of the Peshwas and Maharani Ahilyabai Holkar of Indore. The Peshwas of Pune, seen as the de facto rulers of Delhi during the later part of the Mughal empire, and many people of Maharashtrian origin settled in North India during their reign. After the fall of the Maratha empire in 1818, the British pensioned off the last Peshwa — Bajirao II to Bithoor near Kanpur.
The BJP's Kirit Somaiya, who was contesting from Mumbai North East against Sanjay Dina Patil of the NCP and the AAP's Medha Patkar, spent much of Friday complaining to the Election Commission and the police about large number of names of voters going missing from the electoral rolls in his constituency, but headed to the neighbouring state of Daman on Saturday morning for Modi's rally. Later, Somaiya, who is the party's in-charge for the Union Territory, will visit Diu. "Later, I am likely to be on duty in UP," said Somaiya.
Jaiprakash Thakur, vice-president, Maharashtra BJP, will leave for Varanasi to campaign for Modi with 150 workers from Mumbai.
Congress MP from North West Mumbai Gurudas Kamat, who is fighting against Gajanan Kirtikar of the Shiv Sena, Mahesh Manjrekar (MNS) and the AAP's Mayank Gandhi, has headed to Gujarat for the party's campaign on Modi's home turf. Kamat, an All India Congress Committee (AICC) general secretary, is in-charge of Gujarat and Rajasthan.
Kripashanker Singh, one of the North Indian faces of the Congress in Mumbai, and MLA from Kalina, has been put in charge as an AICC observer in Varanasi, where Ajay Rai of the Congress will take on Modi in his maiden foray into the Hindi heartland, and Allahabad. "I am also focusing on my home turf of Jaunpur, where Bhojpuri actor Ravi Kishen is contesting," said Singh, claiming that the "silent voters" in the state, which sends the highest number of MPs (80) to the Lok Sabha and forms the nucleus of the BJP's plans to capture power in Delhi via a rich haul of seats, were not likely to be swayed by "casteism", but will vote for the Congress.
"The people have a soft corner for the Congress due to its schemes like the Food Security Act... and pension and social security schemes," said Singh. "The people feel that only the Congress can ensure a stable government. They have doubts about whether these people (BJP) are capable of it," he claimed.
The Samajwadi Party's MLA from Mumbai, Abu Asim Azmi, who is a former Rajya Sabha MP from Uttar Pradesh, will go to native Azamgarh, where party chief 'Netaji' Mulayam Singh Yadav is contesting from, and also visit Varanasi, Lucknow, Jaunpur and Faridabad for canvassing.
While Youth Congress national president Rajiv Satav, who is said to be Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi's confidante, is camping in Amethi, where Rahul is being challenged by the BJP's candidate and TV actor Smriti Irani and the AAP's Kumar Vishwas, Maharashtra minority welfare minister Nasim Khan is said to be campaigning in Bahraich in Uttar Pradesh. Satav contested the Lok Sabha polls from Hingoli in Marathwada against sitting Shiv Sena MP Subhash Wankhede.
Congress candidate from Mumbai North Sanjay Nirupam, who fought a tough battle against Gopal Shetty of the BJP, is scheduled to campaign from Dadra and Nagar Haveli, and is willing to campaign from his native state of Bihar if summoned by the party.