He may be lagging behind in the presidential race, but Purno Agitok Sangma seems set to beat Pranab Mukherjee in a sprint to the city to secure support from various corners of the political spectrum.
Sangma, the candidate backed by BJP, BJD and AIADMK, will visit Mumbai on July 9 as a part of his nationwide campaign to interact with his voters.
The state BJP unit is busy finalising his meeting with party legislators where Sangma is scheduled to address them.
“We are in the process of selecting the venue, most probably a five-star hotel in south Mumbai, where Sangma will address party MLAs, followed by dinner,” said a BJP state unit functionary.
Till date, BJP is the only party from the state that has opted to vote for Sangma. Smaller parties such as PWP and independent MLAs are yet to make public their stand.
UPA nominee Pranab Mukherjee, meanwhile, is tentatively expected to come to town on July 13. His visit to Matoshree, residence of the Thackerays, is also eagerly awaited by the Shiv Sena as the NDA partner has heralded its support to him, much to the surprise of BJP.
The state as well as the city unit of Congress is still uncertain about Mukherjee’s itinerary. The July 13 date has not been confirmed by Delhi, said Sachin Sawant, spokesperson for the party.
Sources from Congress’ Mumbai unit say the party may not welcome Mukherjee’s visit to Matoshree, because it may elicit unfavourable reactions from minority voters.
“The Sena backing Pratibha Patil was a different case as she was from the state. But it is altogether a different case this time,” said a party leader, requesting anonymity.
In a soup?
“Congress has always been banking on support from North Indian voters in Mumbai, whereas Sena has continually flaunted an anti-North Indian agenda. It will also be difficult if anyone rakes up issues such as Bal Thackeray’s reaction after Babri Masjid demolition that if Shiv Sainiks were indeed part of the razing, he was proud of them,” he added.
The mood in the Sena camp is so upbeat over Mukherjee’s visit that the party mouthpiece Saamana carried a story welcoming his visit to Matoshree. State and city Congress units are trying to convince their Delhi bosses about keeping Mukherjee’s visit limited to an interaction with Congress, NCP and Samajwadi Party MLAs.