Terming Shiv Sena’s ‘Shiv Vada Pav’ scheme as an “extortion racket”, Congress MLA Nitesh Rane Wednesday alleged that over 90 per cent of such stall owners in Mumbai were of north Indian origin.
Rane told reporters here that his NGO Swabhimaan Sangathan had conducted a sting operation at one of Shiv Vada stalls, where it found the owner was running it by flouting norms.
“In a sting operation that we had conducted on one of the Shiv Vada Pav stalls, we found out that a person needs to invest Rs 1.5 lakh to start a vada pav stall. Moreover, those who are running the stall need to pay thousands of rupees to BMC so that no action is taken against them for running a stall on footpaths,” he said.
Questioning the number of Marathi-speaking people running vada pav stalls, Rane said the Sena and the BMC should come clean on the number of Maharashtrians engaged in running the stall and alleged that 90 per cent were from north India.
“When you (Sena) started this scheme, you kept on saying this will provide employment opportunities to those Marathis who have no sources of income. But the fact is that the Marathi people are being cheated and more than 90 per cent people running these stalls in Mumbai are people from North India,” Rane claimed.
He said there was no harm if north Indians also run the stalls, but Sena should stop playing politics of identity.
Rane alleged several vada pav stalls in the city were selling Chinese food, flouting Supreme Court guidelines that bars vendors from cooking (frying) foodstuff on the footpaths.
“When I filed an RTI query with the BMC, I was told this scheme is not legal and thus there is no notification about this scheme available with the BMC. So, under which laws are they allowed to operate on footpaths? And under what laws is money being extorted in the name of fines from these poor people? They are only running an extortion racket,” he alleged.
Shiv Vada Pav scheme was started in 2009 by Shiv Sena to globalise city’s trademark staple food item along with providing employment to several Marathi youths.