Mumbai braces for showdown
The Shiv Sena is putting finishing touches to its plan to disrupt Congress General Secretary Rahul Gandhi’s maiden political visit to Mumbai on Friday.mumbai Updated: Feb 05, 2010 10:30 IST
The Shiv Sena is putting finishing touches to its plan to disrupt Congress General Secretary Rahul Gandhi’s maiden political visit to Mumbai on Friday.
But the Congress and the city police are trying out all the tricks in their bags to outwit the Sena — from suppressing information on Gandhi’s itinerary to rounding up violent Sena men.
On Thursday, Sena chief Bal Thackeray asked his men to show black flags to Gandhi to protest against his comment during his Bihar tour on Tuesday that Bihari commandos had saved Mumbai during 26/11 and all Indians had the right to work and live anywhere in the country.
The Sena shot back, saying Rahul was a “totally frustrated person and had lost his mental balance”.
Protecting Gandhi is proving to be a tough challenge for Maharashtra’s Congress Chief Minister Ashok Chavan. So much so that he announced on Thursday that Congress workers would take it to the streets if the Sena did not stop insulting their leaders.
Addressing party workers at Vashi in Navi Mumbai, Chavan said, “We are proud of our leaders. Congress workers will take to the streets and give a fitting reply. We have a history of agitating against any disrespect to our leaders.”
Gandhi will visit the city between 9.30 am and 2 pm. He will address college students and interact with slum youths.
“Cancelling the events will mean a victory for the Sena,” a senior Youth Congress leader said on condition of anonymity.
Considering Gandhi’s track record of breaking security barricades, the Special Protection Group has arranged advance screening of those who will attend the functions.
Also, since the Sena trade unions wield considerable clout in the airport, the administration has decided to fly Gandhi in a chopper to a private property.