Giving a Maharashtrian vs non-Maharashtrian twist to the controversy over ACP Vasant Dhoble’s transfer from the Vakola division to the police control room after the death of a hawker in an anti-encroachment drive, Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) chief Raj Thackeray said North Indian politicians were using migrant hawkers as vote bank.
He also warned of retaliation if the hawkers went ahead with their plans for a morcha at Azad Maidan on Monday.
“If one is transferred for acting against illegal hawkers, then which policeman will dare to take action?” questioned Thackeray. Ironically, Thackeray had attacked Dhoble earlier for his action against bars and commercial establishments flouting norms.
“This is a conspiracy. People from other states are brought in and settled down as hawkers to increase votes (of ministers hailing from those states); people like (Congress MLA) Kripashanker (Singh) are elected on this,” he alleged.
“I feel that like the Azad Maidan riots, these things (Dhoble’s transfer) are meant to demoralise the police,” he said, adding that the state had sent a proposal to the president asking that 2% of city’s population be allowed to work as hawkers. This, he pointed out, would lead to all footpaths being eaten up. “Then what difference will it make even if Dhoble is brought back?” Thackeray asked, while criticising deputy chief minister Ajit Pawar’s statement about him not being in agreement with CM Prithviraj Chavan on the transfer.
Thackeray alleged that the authorities acted against Maharashtrian hawkers while letting the non-Maharashtrians off the hook and charged that migrant hawkers were browbeating Maharashtrian hawkers to relocate. He stressed that Maharashtrian hawkers had the first right over the city.
“What is illegal must be removed. If they organise a morcha, the MNS will show its strength,” he warned, calling on citizens to stop buying from these hawkers.
“Shouldn’t I talk against those who are organising a morcha to say they don’t want law and order?” he asked.