After being increasingly marginalised by the ruling Congress-NCP alliance, Republican Party of India (RPI) chief Ramdas Athavale has been trying every trick in the book to rake up various issues.
Deriding the builders for their attitude towards slumdwellers, Athavale on Monday asked his party workers to stone the offices of builders. “These builders have become tyrants and are causing injustice to the common man. Attack their offices, get arrested to teach these builders a lesson,” said Athavale.
Alleging that there is widespread corruption in the Slum Rehabilitation Authority, with even the government supporting the builders, Athavale asked his party workers to agitate. “If you agitate, these builders will approach the chief minister and only then you can get justice,” he said.
Ironically, RPI leader Deepak Nikhalje, brother of underworld don Chhota Rajan, is a builder and implementing various projects in the eastern suburbs, where the party has a strong vote-bank.
Reacting sharply to Athavale’s call, the Maharashtra Chambers of Housing Industry (MCHI) said such agitations would only hamper development. “The slum rehabilitation scheme is a complicated one and we have been facing a lot of hurdles in implementing them. Violent actions would only serve to dissuade builders and the whole scheme would suffer,” said Sunil Mantri, chairman, MCHI.
The RPI enjoys popularity in the slum pockets and Athavale is trying to exploit the resentment against the builders here.
Athavale was one of the chief dignitaries to grace the laying of foundation stone for a SRA project of Omkar Relators and Developers at Bhoiwada, where he had praised the whole project.
However, the RPI cadres said they are ready for action. “We are preparing a plan and would shortly undertake this agitation to teach builders a lesson,” said Milind Shirke, district president, RPI.