Mumbaikars have hailed the hawker eviction drive conducted by Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS), Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) and railways that has made the city encroachment free. Citizens are now able to walk freely on footpaths and drive properly after vendors were evicted from public places. The civic body and railways had intensified crackdown against hawkers after the MNS had given 15 days deadline to remove hawkers from railway stations and footpaths. MNS activists too had taken initiative to oust hawkers from various railway stations of the city.
Even though the eviction drive turned violent after hawkers retaliated by attacking MNS workers in Malad but results are visible as the party walks away with credit for spearheading an agitation against vendors. Mumbaikars had often complained with the BMC about illegal hawkers occupying public places but the civic body had turned a blind eye towards it. However, things have changed for the better after the Elphinstone railway station stampede incident as hawkers have been evicted from railways stations across the city. On the other hand, Shiv Sena is likely to allot hawking licences to vendors which will benefit the party by creating additional vote bank for it. Citizens are expecting the MNS to continue with the crackdown against hawkers which might help the party to revive itself ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha and Assembly polls.
Bala Nandgaonkar, MNS leader said, “The campaign against vendors definitely will continue in future too and police are doing a good job. There are 76 railway stations in central railway’s suburban section whereas western railway has 36 stations. The civic body should do proper demarcation of the areas connected with railway stations. In some areas skywalks are connected with railway stations. Sanjay Nirupam should decide whether he is taking a right decision to support illegal encroachment of public places. As per the Supreme Court order hawkers are prohibited from carrying out their business within 150 metres of railway stations. Hawkers must be offered designated hawking spaces and we don’t oppose that however we won’t support illegal hawkers. We had a meeting with police officials and they took an initiative to evict hawkers and maintain law and order in the city.”
Arif Naseem Khan, Congress MLA said, “MNS doesn’t have any rights to forcibly oust hawkers from railway stations and public places. MNS is hand in glove with BJP and Shiv Sena which is causing hardships to poor hawkers in the city. BJP is supporting MNS hence no action has been taken against them. They are also evicting hawkers who are running their business outside 150 metres from railway stations which is unjustified. Congress is planning to organise a protest along with hawkers union against the forcible eviction of vendors.”
Anil Parab, Shiv Sena MLC said, “We don’t want to politicise the hawker’s ouster issue and the BMC will perform its duties. Hawkers should run their business and people too should walk freely on footpaths. We don’t indulge in Marathi vote bank politics everytime. The BMC will create designated hawking spaces for vendors. We will fight for providing justice to legal hawkers. If hawkers are rehabilitated then citizens can buy commodities from them and also it will enable them to earn their livelihood.”
Kailas Chavan, President, NCP ward no 27, said, “The MNS has not taken the right step by resorting to violence against hawkers. Many hawkers are bribing Shiv Sena. MNS is attacking hawkers to gain publicity. If hawkers conduct their business legally then it will enable citizens to buy commodities at cheaper rates. Vending licence should be issued to legal hawkers.”