Mumbai: In a move that has caused eyebrows to raise, the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS), the party known for its anti-north Indian stand since its birth in 2006, has given candidature to a north Indian for the October 15 state Assembly polls.
Akhilesh Chaubey, whose roots are traced to Jaunpur in Uttar Pradesh, has been fielded as the MNS candidate from the Kandivali (East) constituency in Mumbai.
General secretary of the legal cell of the Raj Thackeray-led party, Chaubey is the party's only north Indian candidate in the upcoming polls. He is also the party's first ever north Indian poll nominee so far.
A lawyer by profession, Chaubey says his party is not against any particular community as perceived by some and it welcomes anyone willing to contribute to the development of the state.
"My party does not want people who do not have work-related agenda on their minds. We welcome all who are sure of what they want to do with their lives. We want people from other states, who are not just willing to contribute to the progress of Maharashtra, but also focus on their personal development," Chaubey said.
Interestingly, Kandivali (East) constituency has the highest number of north Indian voters, followed by the Marathi and Gujaratis.
In terms of number, out of the total 2,72,000 voters in the constituency, 90,000 are north Indians, followed by 74,000 Marathi people and 60,000 Gujaratis. North Indians, thus, form almost one-third of the total electorate and giving candidature to someone from Uttar Pradesh could be the party's bid to reach out to the migrants from north India.
However, Chaubey says that the strong presence of the north Indians is not the only factor that got him party's candidature. A gradual realisation among voters, that MNS believes in the development of the state and not in caste-based politics also contributed to it, he said.
"If the party was against north Indians, I would never have got a ticket. The people have started realising now that MNS believes in development and giving fair rights to all. So the constituency with a large number of north Indian voters was not the only factor, but being loyal to Maharashtra got me a ticket," Chaubey said.