Chief minister Devendra Fadnavis’s latest statement praising migrants for making the city “great” has sparked a row between him and the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS), which has been spearheading a campaign against illegal vendors, mostly north Indians, following the stampede at the Elphinstone Road station in September. Addressing a public function in Ghatkopar on Wednesday, Fadnavis reiterated his party’s committment to retaining the city’s cosmopolitan character.
“All those who have made Mumbai their home for decades and have been working here have made Mumbai a great city. We don’t believe in discriminating on the basis of caste, creed and language,” Fadnavis said. He had a special word of praise for people from UP who live and work in the city.
Although the Shiv Sena was silent on the issue, observers said on Thursday that Matoshree will have to take a tough stand on the CM’s speech in order to retain the Sena’s Marathi constituency and keep the MNS at bay.
The MNS was quick to slam Fadnavis for “appeasing” migrants with an eye on the Gujarat polls. MNS functionary Sandip Deshpande called it vote bank politics. “Fadnavis has shown disregard for Mumbai’s woes compounded by the unchecked influx into the city,” he said.
Referring to the ‘Maharashtra Bhushan’ award given every year to a prominent figure for enriching the state’s culture and public life, Deshpande remarked that Fadnavis should be given the ‘Bhayya Bhushan’ award.