A Page 3 politician who was intent on treating the city like an ATM. That, in essence, was the Shiv Sena and MNS reaction to Rahul Gandhi’s tour of Mumbai on Friday.
The Shiv Sena also alleged that Gandhi changed his itinerary — diverting his cavalcade to a packed railway station and travelling to Sena bastion Dadar in a second-class compartment — because he was afraid of the Sena.
In a swipe at the heightened security during the visit — a result of veiled threats from the Sena over the last few days — Shiv Sena executive president Uddhav Thackeray alleged that Rahul had felt “insecure” in Mumbai.
“Even if he had travelled without security, he would not have been harmed,” he said. “Instead, it looked like Italian [dictator] Mussolini had come to Mumbai.”
Elaborating on the ATM theme, a reference to Rahul’s 10-minute stop at a bank en route to the Andheri railway station, Thackeray said: “This is what people from Delhi want to convert Mumbai into. The city has been made into an ATM (“Any Time Money machine”). One can take just Mumbai’s money to Delhi any time.”
Thackeray also ridiculed Chief Minister Ashok Chavan and Minister of State for Home Ramesh Bagwe, saying: “The chief minister of this state was reduced to a guard. He was sitting at Ghatkopar for two hours waiting for his boss. The Minister of State for Home was looking after Rahul’s shoes.”
Claiming success for the Sena’s black flag protest against Rahul, he added: “We had planned to greet Rahul with black flags and we did. Our protest was a success.”
The Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS), meanwhile, described Rahul Gandhi’s visit as a publicity stunt designed to divert the attention of the common man from the rising prices of food items and essential commodities.
“The only thing Rahul did was to hop from one train to another. If he was so concerned about the railways, he should have talked of reducing the load on our local trains or starting new services,” said MNS spokesperson Shirish Parkar.
Calling Rahul a Page 3 politician, Parkar said Rahul should have focused his energies on combating the price rise and apologised for “insulting Marathis by making wild statements in Bihar”.