Marathi signboards in shops: Mumbai traders ask CM Fadnavis to restrain MNS
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Marathi signboards in shops: Mumbai traders ask CM Fadnavis to restrain MNS

No objection to using Marathi signboards, but the MNS should not be allowed to dictate the size of font used, says association

mumbai Updated: Dec 01, 2017 13:13 IST
Naresh Kamath
Naresh Kamath
Hindustan Times
In July, MNS workers objected to two shops in Prabhadevi displaying Gujarati signboards and removed them forcibly.(HT File)

The Maharashtra Navnirman Sena’s (MNS) strong-arm tactics to ensure shops display Marathi signboards prominently has irked traders in Mumbai. The Federation of Retail Traders Association (FRTA) has written to Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, demanding that the MNS, whom it accuses of harassing traders, be restrained.

“In the last few days, MNS workers have been visiting shops and giving them letters to display prominent Marathi signboards. This is sort of threatening the shopkeepers,” Shah said.

The problem, Shah emphasised, is not having Marathi signboards as mandated by law, but the MNS’ insistence on how prominent the signboards must be. “The choice of the size of the font is ours, and we should not be forced,” he said.

In 2008, the MNS had launched an agitation to ensure that Marathi signboards are used across Mumbai. The drive stopped only after the intervention of Bombay high court. The party renewed this campaign earlier this year.

In July, MNS workers forcibly removed signboards of two shops in Dadar as they also had Gujarati on them.

On Friday, the MNS said its campaign would continue till Marathi language gets its rightful place. “Traders have to respect the local language of the state. There will be no compromise on this issue. We will not allow Marathi language to be relegated to some corner of the signboard; traders need to correct this anomaly,” said MNS secretary Sachin More, issuing a warning that if traders don’t respect Marathi, they will be taught a lesson MNS-style (read, with violence).

After a disastrous start in the 2007 civic polls, MNS chief Raj Thackeray started a violent agitation against North Indians in 2008, which helped him reap rich electoral benefits. He won 13 seats in his debut Assembly elections and had 28 corporators in the Mumbai civic body. However, since 2014, when his party lost clout everywhere with just one legislator and one corporator, the MNS has seen a huge drop in popularity.

Now, Thackeray is trying desperately to revive his outfit. He has reshuffled the organisational structure and brought in new faces to manage things, and has been taking up various issues to improve the party’s mass appeal, such as evicting illegal hawkers, objecting to North Indians and purportedly campaigning for the Marathi manoos and Marathi language.

First Published: Dec 01, 2017 13:10 IST