Ending months of speculation and in an ostensible attempt to bolster its prospects in the upcoming civic polls in the Capital, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) appointed Bhojpuri actor-turned-MP Manoj Tiwari the chief of its Delhi unit on Wednesday.
Mr. Tiwari took over from Satish Upadhyay in what is an evident shift towards attracting Poorvanchali votes for the party from its proclivity towards Punjabi, baniya
The 43-year-old joined the party just before the 2014 Lok Sabha polls and represents the BJP from the North-East Delhi constituency. A multifaceted personality, he is widely known for his association with Bhojpuri cinema and music in addition to reality television and sports.
40 lakh voters
Since winning the Lok Sabha seat, Mr. Tiwari has emerged a popular face among migrants from Bihar and Uttar Pradesh settled in the Capital by routinely organising or participating in programmes celebrating Poorvanchali culture.
There are an estimated 40 lakh Poorvanchali migrants in Delhi, mostly settled in unauthorised colonies. The ruling Aam Aadmi Party government has pulled all stops to woo them since coming to power in February 2015.
The elevation of Mr. Tiwari, who was born in Atarwalia in Bihar and is a graduate from the Banaras Hindu University (BHU), was in the works for several months, according to party insiders. It is understood to have received a push after the party’s dismal performance in the civic by-elections, where it secured the lowest number of seats — just three of 13 — in May this year. Though talk about his appointment at the helm of the party had emerged from time-to-time, Mr. Tiwari always maintained that he was not privy to any such information.
“The by-polls to the 21 Assembly constituencies, which their incumbent AAP MLAs might be ordered to vacate by the Election Commission soon, are also a factor,” said a party source.
“Mr. Tiwari is not only a popular face, which the party believes it can bank upon for the civic polls, but also across the Capital given his mass appeal. However, given his relatively short stint in the party, consolidating his mandate within it given Delhi's ever-changing political dynamics are expected to emerge as somewhat of a challenge for him,” the source added.
However, Mr. Tiwari chose to play down his cultural heritage in relation to his elevation as the chief of the party's Delhi unit.
“The appointment should not be categorised on regional lines, as I have earned the love of all and will work honouring all. I will seek help of the seniors in the party and work with the motto ‘ Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas, Dilli Ka Ullas’ ,” he told journalists at the Delhi BJP office soon after taking over the unit's reins from Mr. Upadhyay.
Takes dig at Kejriwal
Shortly after expressing his gratitude to BJP president Amit Shah and Prime Minister Narendra Modi for giving him a “big” responsibility, flanked by senior party leaders including Harsh Vardhan, Vijay Goel, Mr. Upadhyay and other MPs, Mr. Tiwari took a dig at AAP convenor and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejiwal.
“It is Mr. Kejriwal’s policy to divide and rule. Delhi is mini-India and I will work to ensure that it is developed in a form as dreamt by Mr. Modi...What we need is a work plan and not a war plan. See, how some people have changed Delhi into a war zone. Delhi needs a work plan, and not false promises and backtracking on those promises as they have done,” he said.