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Give our poha space, pleads Congress

As the polls near, the desperation to jump on the Mee Marathi bandwagon seems to be intensifying — and the battle is being played out over plates of vada pav and kanda poha, reports Sayli Udas Mankikar.

india Updated: Feb 06, 2009 01:13 IST
Sayli Udas Mankikar

As the polls near, the desperation to jump on the Mee Marathi bandwagon seems to be intensifying — and the battle is being played out over plates of vada pav and kanda poha.

The Congress on Thursday launched a pitched battle in the municipal corporation, for “an equal number of slots” for their kanda poha stalls.

The Shiv Sena, which is currently in power in the municipal corporation, is planning to allot space on a five-year renewable lease to 215 aahar kendras and 125 handcarts that will sell its branded Shiv Vada Pav.

The Shiv Vada Pav scheme is likely to be put before the civic law committee on Saturday. Stalls are expected to open on May 1, Maharashtra Day.

Both kanda poha and vada pav are quintessentially Maharash-trian snacks, with the latter perhaps having an edge because it is a Mumbai favourite.

The Sena first cooked up its Shiv vada concept soon after the rival Maharashtra Navnirman Sena launched a Mee Marathi battle against north Indians “for the good of the Marathi manoos”.

The Congress, not to be outdone, announced that it would be setting up kanda poha stalls, and even promised a festival to celebrate the dish. The fest has not yet materialised.

Rajhans Singh, leader of the Congress in the BMC, is even playing the caste card. “The proposal does not make any reservations for backward castes,” he said. “This has been done deliberately by Shiv Sena leaders and the municipal commissioner, who comes from an upper caste.”

A visibly hurt Singh added that he had “made a request to the commissioner to include kanda poha stalls in the same proposal, which has been conveniently ignored”.

Civic chief Jairaj Phatak, who seemed rather amused, said he was in no way against reservation and “it would be done if necessary”. “We will even put reservations for the number of vada pavs that will be consumed if they insist,” he added in jest.