Mumbai: The on-going Ganesh festival has become a public outreach opportunity for city-based politicians, who are eyeing blessings of both Lord Ganesh and his devotees ahead of an election year. As both the Lok Sabha and Maharashtra polls are due in 2019, political leaders, especially ticket-aspirants, are making it a point to visit people in their constituencies who have installed Ganesh idols at home, apart from going to several pandals that dot the city during the 11-day festival.
“The idea is just to be seen with voters,” said a worker of a political party in suburban Ghatkopar. Mumbai has six parliamentary constituencies and 36 Assembly segments. “During festival period, politicians sometimes reach out to people, sometimes they don’t. But now, since this festival season comes ahead of next year’s polls, leaders are ensuring that they meet people,” said BJP MP Gopal Shetty, who represents the Mumbai North constituency.
Former Rajya Sabha MP and veteran journalist Bharat Kumar Raut said among festivals in Mumbai and Maharashtra, Ganesh festival and Gokulashtami (Dahi Handi) get more political patronage from politicians ahead of elections. “Plus, Ganesh festival and Dahi Handi are celebrated in public, outside homes. So for local corporators, MLAs and MPs these are important occasions,” Raut said.