The Bharatiya Janata Party's Mumbai unit on Saturday spiked a party leader's proposal seeking to set up a chain of tea and food stalls, named after Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in the city.
The proposal was mooted by BrihanMumbai Municipal Corporation's Improvements Committee chairman Prakash Gangadhare, who on Friday said that such 'Na Mo' stalls in each of the 23 BMC wards would help generate employment for city youth and migrants from drought-hit regions, and if they were licenced and in legal vending zones, could avail bank loans through the PM Mudra Scheme.
However, barely a day after the issue kicked up a controversy, the city BJP washed its hands off the proposal on grounds of propriety. “It is Gangadhare's personal thought and proposal. The party doesn't support it as there is a certain protocol of the PM's office which doesn't allow anybody to use the PM's name in this manner," a party official said.
The BJP also appealed to the BMC to initiate action against unauthorized stalls run by other parties, ostensibly hinting at the 'Shiv Vada Pav' outlets operated by Shiv Sena activists.
Sena corporator V. Trushna declared that licences of many 'Shiv Vada Pav' stalls have been cancelled but if the civic chief permitted the 'NaMo' stalls, his party would oppose it and demand re-issue of cancelled licences of these outlets.
The BJP-SS are in an uneasy alliance in the BMC over 25 years, as well as ruling jointly in Maharashtra and at the centre. Opposing the move, the Nationalist Congress Party city chief Sachin Ahir alleged that in the guise of providing employment to “sons of the soil", the ruling alliance was turning the entire city into an illegal “hawking zone".
Ahir pointed out that even the 250 Shiv Vada Pav stalls in the city are unauthorized and the NCP would agitate against all such illegal activities. Shopping and trading activities in the country's commercial capital is not unfamiliar territory for the main political parties here.
When the first Shiv Sena-BJP government was in power between 1995-1999, it had set up scores of “Zunka Bhakar" stalls for selling food at Re.1 to the masses, but a majority of them were illegal and later shut down.
A few years after the Congress Party set up 'Poha' and affordable vegetable stalls while Maharashtra Navnirman Sena had sold vegetable at low prices last year. In 2011, the Shiv Vada Pav stalls cropped up in the city, and the latest entrant was the BJP leader's proposal to open 'NaMo' tea and food stalls.'