Mumbai News

MVA, BJP launch rallies in Mumbai – Hindustan Times

A protest march of the opposition Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) of Maharashtra began from Byculla in Mumbai on Saturday morning even as the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) launched a ‘Maafi Mango Andolan’ in six Lok Sabha constituencies across the city.

The MVA has claimed that their march is to safeguard the ‘pride of Maharashtra’, which has been hurt by three factors: BJP leaders’ alleged insulting remarks against Maharashtra’s icons, the alleged failure of the Eknath Shinde-Devendra Fadnavis government to respond aggressively to the recent Maharashtra-Karnataka border dispute flare-up, and the exodus of major projects out of the state. On the other hand, the BJP has claimed that their andolan is to condemn the alleged insult of Dr BR Ambedkar and Hindu saints by the opposition leaders.

The Opposition’s ‘Halla Bol Morcha’ will culminate in a meeting opposite Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus, about 2 km from the starting point of the morcha.

After a brief meeting to chalk out the last leg strategy at a Mumbai Central hotel, key leaders of the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) participated in the foot march. Former chief minister and Shiv Sena (UBT) chief Uddhav Thackeray, Sanjay Raut, Aaditya Thackeray, NCP leader Ajit Pawar, Jayant Patil, Congress leaders Balasaheb Thorat, Prithviraj Chavan, Nana Patole, Samajwadi Party (SP) leader Abu Asim Azmi among others participated in the march. The Halla Bol Morcha is the first show of strength of the MVA after their government was toppled this June by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Sena defectors, who are now in power.

NCP chief Sharad Pawar is expected to join the march and address the gathering at CSMT. Congress leader and former chief minister Ashok Chavan’s absence was conspicuous amid the speculation that he may join the BJP in near future. He, however, has clarified that he was not able to attend the march because of a wedding ceremony in his family. He also said that his wife and former MLA Ameeta Chavan will participate in the morcha.

After the culmination of the march, key leaders are expected to address the assembly outside CSMT. A make-shift stage has been erected by the MVA after they were denied the permission for the rally at Azad Maidan. Rashmi Thackeray, wife of Uddhav Thackeray, too participated in the march.

A team of Marathi speaking people from Maharashtra-Karnataka border dispute-affected Belgaum was part of the march. Communist Party of India (CPI), Samajwadi Party (SP), Republican Party of India’s faction led by Deepak Nikalje actively supported the morcha.

Former deputy chief minister and NCP leader Chhagan Bhujbal said, “This is just the beginning of the protest against the policies and governance of the Shinde-Fadnavis government. We will continue to attack the state government on various forums, including the state assembly.”

Bhujbal said that the ‘Maafi Mango Andolan’ announced by the BJP was out of fear of the success of their grand morcha. “Do they have any right to demand pardon from us? The people in Maharashtra know who have insulted the icons of Maharashtra,” he said.

SP leader Abu Azmi said, “This is the united voice by all the opposition parties against the policies of the ruling parties in the state and at the Center. Besides the issues like inflation and unemployment, the grand morcha also condemns the insult meted out to the state’s idols such as Shivaji Maharaj.”

The BJP’s andolan was held outside Dadar and Kandivali stations in the morning. The last leg of the protest will be held outside Andheri station at 3.30pm. BJP legislator Ram Kadam said, “Shiv Sena (UBT) leaders like Sanjay Raut and Sushama Andhare should apologise for the insults they meted out to Hindu saints and gods. The MVA morcha has participation of just 20,000 people. We will show the real strength of the people.”



    Surendra P Gangan is Senior Assistant Editor with political bureau of Hindustan Times’ Mumbai Edition. He covers state politics and Maharashtra government’s administrative stories. Reports on the developments in finances, agriculture, social sectors among others.