The Shiv Sena and MNS are singing the same tunes again, this time on the issue of Union Leader Sharad Rao led autorickshaw strike in Mumbai this week. It was MNS Chief Raj Thackeray who threatened to personally take on Sharad Rao if he inconvenienced commuters in Mumbai, which was followed by Shiv Sena’s scathing attack on Sharad Rao for daring to say that he would take out a strike to Matoshree – Balasaheb Thackeray’s residence in Mumbai.
After the issue of mill workers, Shiv Sena and MNS are towing the same lines again. This time the issue is of Union leader Sharad Rao led autorickshaws’ union in Mumbai. The MNS took on the union leader Sharad Rao after a section of autorickshaws kept off roads to demand a fare hike causing a lot of inconvenience to thousands of commuters in suburban Mumbai. The protest was mainly for revision of auto fares and was called off after the state conceded to raising the fares in Mumbai. It was later exposed that the state government and Sharad Rao had Mumbaikars fir a ride. In fact he state government had already agreed to increase the fares a day prior to the strike and the strike called by Sharad Rao was only a political stunt to claim credit. The MNS came out in support of commuters and assaulted rickshaw drivers of Sharad Rao’s union for holding Mumbai city for ransom. Addressing reporters on their decision to take on Sharad Rao’s rickshawmen union, MNS Chief Raj Thackeray said that his party would step in to counter the inconvenience caused to Mumbai.
Rickshaw unions have been protesting the state decision of making electronic meters mandatory. However Raj Thackeray says that the rickshaw wallahs will have to abide by this rule. He said that electronic meters would nullify the chances of cheating commuters. Raj Thackeray lashed out at Sharad Rao for inconveniencing Mumbaikars and said that if Rao did not change his attitude, the MNS would teach him a “lesson”. In his trademark style, he said that this was his challenge to Sharad Rao and his rickshawmen. He did not even spare SP MLA Abu Asmi who has come out in support of rickshawmen. According to Thackeray, it is the corruption in the RTO that issue has attained such grave colors. In his tirade, Raj Thackeray even blamed the police.
Close on the heels of MNS hitting out auto unions and Sharad Rao, its arch-rival Shiv Sena also launched a scathing attack on trade union leader Sharad Rao while empathizing with city commuters for their plight. Reacting to Sharad Rao’s statement that he would take out a protest march to Matoshree, Shiv Sena spokesperson Sanjay Raut said that the march never reached the Sena Supremo’s residence as Sainiks taught rickshawmen a lesson in their style. He too attacked Sharad Rao for playing politics at the cost of commuter’s inconvenience. The Shiv Sena too has challenged Sharad Rao to refrain from going on strike again. While the MNS and Shiv Sena both are speaking of teaching Sharad Rao and his rickshawmen a lesson the violent way, Mumbaikars still agree with the issues that they have raised. Rickshaw men in Mumbai, Navi Mumbai and Thane often demonstrate high-handed behavior, do not follow fare rules, over charge commuters and go on strike inconveniencing citizens. With the state failing to check these issues, it is left to opposition parties to stand up for citizens. Perhaps that is why MNS and Shiv Sena have the aam admi’s vote on this one. With bureau inputs, Monika Bhosale for NMTV News.