Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) chief Raj Thackeray's initiative to garner jobs for unemployed Marathi youth by cornering stalls on footpaths was booted out by the state government on Tuesday.
Minister of State for Urban Development Bhaskar Jadhav said the party's demand for 25,000 stalls would just clog footpaths and it was mooted with a political agenda and an eye on the civic polls.
He said this in reply to a calling attention motion moved by MNS legislators including Pravin Darekar, stating that the Mumbai District Co-operative Bank would extend assistance of Rs 500 crore for this scheme.
Darekar is the newly elected chairman of this bank.
MNS legislators staged a walkout after a prolonged political tête-à-tête between Jadhav and Darekar on the issue.
"The hawker's policy is pending with the state legislature. After it gets cleared by the Legislative Council, it will be decided where there will be hawking zones and who fits the bill of a hawker," said Jadhav.
He added that until then it would be ridiculous to discuss how 25,000 stalls can be given even with the assistance of Rs 500 crore from the bank.
"The city's footpaths are clogged and we have been facing encroachment problem. So to entertain this idea of setting up 25,000 stalls is not practical," Jadhav added.
MNS legislators, however, said Jadhav's reply was political.
"The court has asked the state to frame a policy. The state and the BMC don't have any coordination and this has delayed progress. What's the harm in pushing an initiative that aims at providing employment to 50,000 Marathi youth?" asked Darekar.
Thackeray had recently met Municipal Commissioner Swadheen Kshatriya to push this initiative.
While the MNS was keen to project its idea as pro-Marathi, the ruling alliance insisted that the scheme was just political sloganeering.
The Marathi agenda is likely to get shriller in the coming months, with all parties keen on establishing their pro-Marathi manoos stance in lieu of the civic polls in 2012.