From June 14, Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) activists are going to make a lot of noise much more than usual.
While Union Railway Minister Lalu Yadav has insisted on observing Chhat Puja in the city, the Raj Thackeray-led MNS has announced ‘Chat Puja’ to protest against unlicensed hawkers in Mumbai hailing from the country’s cow belt.
As per the campaign, to be started on June 14, the birthday of Raj, “unauthorised hawkers” from Uttar Pradesh and Bihar will be identified and MNS activists will clang cymbals and bells till they are evicted from footpaths. MNS activists will repeat this in front of ward offices and police stations to pressurise authorities to take action against the traders.
Calling it a form of ‘Gandhigiri’, MNS Vice President Haji Arafat Shaikh said the aim was to free the city of such illegal practices. “There is not a single inch of footpath remaining for citizens to walk as these migrants set up any business at will,” said Shaikh. “By making this noise, we hope the authorities wake up to this grave problem.”
The MNS had formed teams in each area to identify and photograph these hawkers, he said. A comprehensive list would be prepared and handed over the local ward office and police station asking for action to be taken against them within a fortnight, he said. “If no action is forthcoming, we will hold demonstrations and not move till they are evicted.”
North Indian leaders dismissed the MNS plan as a publicity stunt. “Raj Thackeray has become desperate and is resorting to such tactics to gain publicity,” said Marleshwar Tripathi, president, Uttar Bhartiya Vikas Parishad. “Their only intention is to target poor people who have come to earn a decent livelihood.”
Meanwhile, Shiv Sena executive president Uddhav Thackeray played the Marathi card, too. “If anyone tries to hurt the Marathi pride, we will give a befitting reply,” he said. “We’ve always worked for the Marathi cause and we won’t just fitter our energy on just anything,” he added, taking a dig at cousin Raj.