The Shiv Sena and Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) have demanded reservation for Marathis in the allotment of cheap flats being sold as part of a state government housing scheme.
While Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray has demanded that 80 percent of the flats be allotted to Marathis, his estranged cousin, MNS chief Raj Thackeray has gone a step further and demanded 100 percent reservations for locals.
Uddhav Thackeray told reporters here Monday evening that "sons of the soil" must get a preference in the allotment of houses - views that were echoed by an editorial in the party mouthpiece Saamna.
Similarly, speaking at a function here, Raj Thackeray demanded that all the flats in the latest MHADA scheme should be allotted to Marathi-speaking people.
The political leaders made their demands after massive crowds of hopefuls queued up to buy application forms for new housing schemes launched by the Maharashtra Housing and Area Development Authority (MHADA) here Monday.
On the first day, MHADA sold 88,222 application forms, netting Rs.8.82 million. The flats will be allotted through a draw of lots from among the applicants.
The queues only got longer Tuesday. In Goregaon, the queue was nearly three kilometres long with about 10,000 people patiently awaiting their turn.
Not surprisingly, the two Thackeray cousins' demand for quota received a positive response from the Marathi-speaking people, especially those belonging to the economically weaker sections.
"Though the MHADA rule says that only those who don't own a house in Mumbai can apply, it seems unlikely that all these people in the queues qualify. However, there are millions of Marathis like me who have no place of our own. These applicants spoil our chances of getting an allotment," said Priya Uke.
Uke had returned to a queue in Borivli suburb Tuesday after failing to get a form Monday despite a 15-hour long wait.
A MHADA spokesman told IANS that the agency expects to sell nearly a million forms till the last date of Jan 30.
The new scheme has a total of 3,863 flats for economically weaker sections, middle and higher income groups. The flats are constructed in suburbs like Sion, Chembur, Ghatkopar, Dahisar, Goregaon, Kandivli, Vikhroli and Andheri.
Depending on the category, the flat prices range from over Rs.360,000 to Rs.5.6 million. This comes to nearly half the prevailing markets in the respective areas and without additional charges that private builders levy.
The flats measure approximately 180 square feet, 650 square feet and 950 square feet for various categories.
The majority of applicants are expected to be from the economically weaker sections. The forms are being sold through 21 branches of the HDFC Bank around the city.
In July 2008, the MHADA released 870 flats measuring 180-square feet in a low-income group housing scheme in Malad, which attracted over 200,000 applications. These flats are due to be allotted shortly, the spokesman said.