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The rat trap - Mumbai housings

india Updated: Aug 01, 2009 01:44 IST
Shailesh Gaikwad

The warring Thackeray brothers are now locked in a new controversy that involves rats and builders.

It began at a recent rally by the Shiv Sena to demand affordable houses for the Marathi manoos. At the rally, Uddhav labeled the builders ‘rats’ and warned them of dire consequences if they did not provide houses to sons of the soil at affordable rates.

Then Raj took a potshot at his cousin by pointing out that the ‘rats’ had, in fact, sponsored many advertisements in the special edition of Sena mouthpiece Saamna on Uddhav’s birthday on July 27.

Not to be left behind in this ‘rat’ race, the Sena got Raj’s former aide-turned-rival Sweta Parulkar to call him ‘Mooshak Raj’ (mooshak is rat in Marathi) since Raj is also a developer by profession.

Undeterred, the two brothers continue to ‘rat’ on each other in public. And for advice, they can always depend on their confidants Manohar Joshi (Shiv Sena) and Rajan Shirodkar (MNS) — who happen to own construction firms themselves.

Block builders

While on builders, they’ve always been favourites in Mantralaya. In fact, a developer who specialises in slum rehab is known to be close to a former chief minister. Another builder who has several projects going in the suburbs is always in the good books of a ‘industrious’ minister.

Then there is a leading builder who is always found in the right company regardless of who is in power. And these days, we hear, a Pune-based builder is rather popular in the corridors of power. With so many of them ‘building connections’ in Mantralaya, do you wonder why the government wants to push the cut-off date for slum rehabilitation to 2000? There are fortunes to be built there!

Uniform betrayal

State police chief S S Virk has left the top functionaries of the state government red-faced and a bit betrayed. Even as Chief Minister Ashok Chavan signed a letter for a three-month extension for him and sent it to New Delhi for approval, Virk was moving the Central Administrative Tribunal against the State and Central governments. Citing an earlier apex court judgement of fixed tenure for chief secretary and police chief, Virk demanded the same for himself (Maharashtra is yet to adopt the idea of a fixed tenure.)

The top officials in Mantralaya were not amused when they learnt about Virk’s move. No prizes for guessing the state government’s next move.

Mahajan legacy continues

For the assembly elections, the saffron combine partners, the Shiv Sena and BJP, have decided to stick to the seat-sharing formula worked out by the late Pramod Mahajan. It’s called the ‘the formula of nine’ and under it, the Sena will contest 171 while the BJP will field 117 candidates.

Why nine? Because the sum total of the seats being contested by each party is 9 — considered a lucky number by the saffron leaders.

Numerology or convenience? Perhaps a bit of both.