Amit Shah dials Uddhav Thackeray after Bandra protest sets off political firestorm
The protest near Mumbai’s Bandra West station, which was dispersed by police after a mild lathicharge, has triggered a back-and-forth between the Shiv Sena-led ruling alliance in the state and the state’s opposition BJP
Home Minister Amit Shah on Tuesday dialled Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray after hundreds of migrant workers in Mumbai turned up at the Bandra West railway station, demanding that railways start trains to take them home.
The protest, which was dispersed by police after a mild lathicharge, has triggered a back-and-forth between the Shiv Sena-led ruling alliance in the state and the state’s opposition BJP.
Shah picked up the phone to quell the storm. The Union home minister underscored that events such as the protest weaken India’s fight against coronavirus disease and the administration needs to stay vigilant to avoid such incidents. He also offered his full support to the Maharashtra government, according to news agency ANI.
Watch | Mumbai: Wave of migrant workers swamp bus stand after lockdown extension
Maharashtra minister Aaditya Thackeray had led the Sena attack at the Centre shortly after the police were able to disperse the crowds. He held the Centre responsible for the situation, contending that the railways should have run special trains to take the migrant workers to their hometown as demanded by Sena boss and chief minister Uddhav Thackeray.
Aaditya Thackeray’s outburst prompted a sharp comeback from state BJP leaders.
Ex-MP Kirit Somaiya asked the Uddhav Thackeray government to explain how a thousand people gathered at Bandra(West) near the station despite prohibitory orders.
Somaiya asked the chief minister to explain what the intelligence agencies were doing and how a large number of people could gather when the police did not allow more than four people at one place. “How and why today,” he asked.
The parting shot was seen as a reference to Prime Minister Narendra Modi announcement earlier in the day, extending the national lockdown that had kicked in from March 25 to May 3.
Maharashtra Home Minister Anil Deshmukh told a local news channel that the protest was a fallout of the manner in which lockdown has been extended.
“People who were stuck in Mumbai were expecting that the lockdown would end and they’ll be allowed to go home but they were disappointed with PM’s address today and their anger burst out on streets of Bandra,” Deshmukh said, according to news agency ANI.
Former chief minister Devendra Fadnavis blamed the state government for making inadequate arrangements for the labourers. “That is why we had to face such an embarrassing situation today that labourers in huge numberS came and said that either provide us food or let us go home. That too in Bandra, under the nose of the government,” Fadnavis said.
Long before PM Modi made the announcement, Uddhav Thackeray had already declared that Maharashtra would remain under a lockdown till April 30; for longer if people don’t adhere to it.
In his address to people later, Uddhav Thackeray made it clear that he and PM Modi were on the same page on the lockdown extension “I thank Prime Minister for it, as I had suggested the same,” he said.