February 14, a day of love was often marked by violence in the city. Lovebirds were threatened and beaten up, and shops attacked by Shiv Sena men for celebrating a ‘western festival’, which they claim is against our culture. This time though, the Sena softened its stance and the festival of love was celebrated peacefully across the city.
Minor incidents of the Sena students’ wing activist burning greeting cards in Kolhapur and Sangli were reported but nothing untoward happened in Mumbai. It was an uncanny situation, but what led to Sena’s U-turn on this issue?
Refuting any change of stand, senior Shiv Sena leader and general secretary Anil Desai said, “We have been clear that people should resort to promoting Hindu culture and festivals and not western festivals.”
But no matter what leaders like Desai say, it is clear that the Sena does not want to be tough on this issue, say political experts. The party is eyeing young voters and doesn’t want to come across as anti-youth. “With Aditya Thackeray, who is portrayed as Sena’s GenNext leader, a negative stand on youth would take a toll on party’s political prospects. With the civic elections scheduled next year, a tough stand against would distance youngsters from the party,” said Surendra Jondhale, head of political science department, Mumbai University.
The young Thackeray, who is usually seen sporting colourful tees, is studying at the upmarket St Xavier’s College and even has a caller tune that plays a peppy English number, represents the aspirations of the younger generation. Jondhale adds that when Sena fought tooth and nail on the issue. “Globalisation has been established and the issue no longer clicks with the youth,” he said.
City couples flying high in love
MUMBAI: Promenades, restaurants and college campuses were not the only places crowded with couples on Valentine’s Day.
On Monday, even the city skies ran out of space to accommodate lovebirds keen on spending a premium to celebrate the occasion.
Private helicopter firms that operate 30-minute aerial joy rides from Juhu to south Mumbai, said that they had to postpone at least five sorties to Tuesday because of time restrictions set by the air traffic control (ATC) office.
“The ATC gave us only two hours from 3.30pm to 5.30 pm to complete all the sorties,” said Omkar Mestry, chief operating officer, Airnetz Aviation, a city-based private charter company.
“We also had to cancel some bookings at the last minute,” he added.
Various chopper companies managed a total of 10 rides within the allotted two hours. Among the lucky couples, who got airborne, was Arvind Mahadik and his girlfriend. Mahadik used the cockpit headphones on board a Robinson 44 helicopter to propose marriage to his long time girlfriend. “She agreed. It was a momentous time of our life,” said Mahadik a leather merchant.
On board the two-seater helicopter a bouquet of red roses, chocolate cake and a bottle of champagne, greeted the couple.
Similarly, city-based businessman Bhavin Ashar went on board with wife Kripa. “The feeling is difficult to explain,” said the 28-year-old.
Couples spent Rs30,000 for the 30-minute tours. While some couples flew above the Bandra-Worli Sea Link up to southern tip of the city others went towards Alibaug.