A day after state PWD Minister Chandrakant Patil claimed that pothole-riddled roads cannot be entirely blamed for accidents, party members of Raj Thackeray-led Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) dug up the pavement outside Mantralaya, the state secretariat in Mumbai, on Tuesday morning as a mode to protest against the pothole misery of India’s financial capital.
“A group of around 20 workers of the MNS gathered outside the Mantralaya around 3 am on Tuesday and started digging up a footpath using spades and other tools to protest against the potholes on roads. All the MNS members present there were taken to the Marine Drive police station, where eight of them involved in digging up the footpath were arrested,” according to a senior police official as per reports.
Naseer Mohd., an Andheri West resident who is living in the city for last 45 years, believes that if MNS wants to govern the state, they have to act likewise — with a sensible approach towards civic issues. “Damaging properties here and there won’t serve their purpose to please the voters,” he stated.
He went on saying, “We are irked with city’s pothole issue and our lives become worst during monsoon every year! However, damaging a road to protest against that sounds immature. MNS chief must motivate its party workers to make moves that won’t harm the party’s credibility.”
A Public Works Department office in Navi Mumbai was also vandalised by the MNS workers the other day — they trashed furniture and equipment and voiced slogans against MSRDC head and Sena Minister Eknath Shinde showing their wrath over the potholes-ridden stretch between Sion and Panvel. However, that’s not all! Be it issues like multiplexes looting cinegoers with overcharged foods inside the theatre or illegal hawkers or expensive toll fee, every time MNS resorted to vandalism in the name of supporting the taxpayers.
Girish Patki, a retired corporate employee from Badlapur spoke to AV and expressed, “Whatever approach MNS is protesting with is only a loss for the Nation and the wastage of taxpayer’s money. Although, we must not forget that our government bluntly ignores any peaceful agitation that happened when the Maratha community marched silently to demand reservation but nobody paid heed to it. It’s very evitable that MNS won’t be able to run a government as they are inconsistent — they take initiative but leave them all incomplete.”
While Raj Thackeray is admired for his ability to connect with the mass issues in the state, his party’s adaptation of violent mode and aggressiveness is taking him far away to make an impression on the city dwellers. Mumbaikars believe a party that seems to be gearing up again to ensure a smoother ride in the upcoming elections after its woeful performance in foregoing BMC and assembly election, must act with more sanity. Meanwhile, the party is also losing its leaders due to their violent approach. Moreover, Mumbaikars feel MNS has a long way to go to prove themselves as a party efficient enough to govern the state with a balanced mind and coherent approach.
“We want our hardships to be highlighted but we don’t want to damage properties of the state. MNS must understand that the road they dug up outside Mantralaya will again consume taxpayer’s money to get repaired. The party should learn the proper way to implement its agenda; otherwise, the Mumbaikars will only show affection for the party but will never vote them to the power,” observed a technology professional from Navi Mumbai.
MNS leader Shalini Thackeray said, “If we don’t show aggressiveness, people call us ‘inactive’ and allege that MNS has finished. When we become aggressive, we are attacked for resorting to violence or vandalism. What should we do?”
“Many times Raj Thackeray has written letters to the authority conveying the pothole menace but our government still considers that there is no pothole in the city. Alike common man, the ministers should also suffer from potholes. If the government doesn’t understand simple and soft language, we will show our aggressiveness in future too,” she further added.
Since its inception in 2006, Raj Thackeray’s MNS has experienced many ups and downs. Although they performed fairly in 2009 state Assembly and 2012 BMC polls by winning 13 and 27 seats consecutively but failed to maintain that position in 2014. At present, MNS chief wants to operate as the primary opposition to the ruling Shiv Sena and BJP in Maharashtra. The Marathi youth that showered support to the newly bloomed proactive political party, is now fed up with its wild takeover on any possible issue concerning the state.
Avi Dixit, a Kalyan resident stated, “Citizens are neither happy with the ruling party nor the opposition. Moreover, MNS must become more active and not an issue- based political party. I feel Mumbaikars appreciate when MNS becomes aggressive but it’s doubtful that how much of it will turn into votes. To run the government, a party should have patience, education, and vision and I don’t think MNS is prepared to run a government at present.”
Political experts believe that the 2019 general elections will be a great opportunity for MNS if it can guide their workers henceforth to take well grounded and politic steps that will restore their trustworthiness and bring them closer to the voters.