It went from being a street food, cosmopolitan by its acceptance, to a hot ‘political’ dish. The Shiv Sena added its secret ingredient to the humble vada pav, making it into the Shiv Vada late last year. Now, others also seem determined to cook up culinary politics to feed their cause.
Nitesh Rane, son of state minister Narayan Rane, has announced his decision to launch his own chain of vada pav stalls — Chhatrapati Vada Pav.
Claiming that he was all set to counter the Sena, Nitesh said his non-profit organisation, Swabhiman, would open its first outlet of Chhatrapati Vada Pav at Powai, opposite Nisarga, an outlet run by a Sena member.
“Our stalls will come up opposite all Shiv Sena’s outlets,” Nitesh said.
Currently, the Sena has about 125 stalls across the city. But they are all illegal since they don’t have the permission of the civic administration.
However, the Sena said they would not take things lying down and would press for the demolition of the stalls. “They should follow proper procedures and take permissions or else we will ask for their removal,” said Ravindra Waikar, Shiv Sena legislator and former civic standing committee chairman.
The vada pav, often described as poor man’s burger, is one of the most popular roadside items available across the city. In 1966, when the Sena was formed, party chief Bal Thackeray had encouraged the Marathi manoos to set up vada pav stalls.
In the past few years, his son and Sena executive president, Uddhav Thackeray, reworked the concept of making the humble vada pav into a global brand and also pressed for setting up of hundreds of outlets across the city.
In November 2008, the Sena had even organised a vada pav competition at Shivaji Park, Dadar, to shortlist the best recipes, and the best was branded as Shiv Vada. The party had roped in fast-food giant McDonalds for the competition.
However, Madhav Deshpande, one of Sena’s founders, criticised the food politics. “If these people are really interested in improving the state of Maharashtrians, they should accommodate these stalls in malls or private premises. Don’t encroach on the roads and public property,” he said.
Deshpande said these outfits were causing inconvenience to citizens to further their political cause.