A day after an audio clip of the Mumbai Mayor “threatening” a civic official went viral, the BJP has condemned the incident saying that civic officials should be allowed to carry out their duty as per the law without any hindrances.
The mayor had sounded the threat to the official purportedly for forceful removal of roadside hawkers.
Mayor Vishwanath Mahadeshwar, who belongs to Shiv Sena, however, said that action should be taken against illegal hawkers but hawkers operating legally should not be harassed by civic officials. He also said he was contemplating action against recording of the conversation. “It is wrong to record a conversation by any official and is also a crime. I am consulting legal experts to decide further course of action against the official,” he said.
On Thursday, Mahadeshwar’s controversial audio clip surfaced in which he is purported to have threatened an official with suspension for allegedly taking action against licence-holding hawkers in Bandra (West). The mayor is purportedly heard questioning the official if they were targeting the hawkers because of their religion.
Incidentally, the civic body on Thursday demolished at least 17 licenced stalls on Linking Road and one stall on Hill Road in Bandra (West).
On Friday, BJP said the language used by an elected representative like the Mayor is not right. “The civic body issued notices to a handful of hawkers only. It is wrong to give religious colour to the civic body’s action. There was a demand by local citizens and elected representatives to remove the hawkers from Linking Road. Civic officials should be allowed to carry out their action as per the law without any interference,” said Manoj Kotak, senior BJP corporator and party group leader in the BMC.
The activists too have condemned the mayor’s act of threatening the official with suspension. “Our city is in a mess because of such people. All Mumbaikars need to come together and demand the mayor’s resignation,” said Nikhil Desai, an activist from King’s Circle.
He also met the civic chief Ajoy Mehta on Friday on the issue and requested him to continue with the action without any pressure.
However, Mumbai Congress president Sanjay Nirupam defended the Mayor’s action of questioning the official. “Though I’m not in favour of any official being threatened, the Mayor has not done anything wrong by questioning the official. These stalls have been there for five decades, how can they suddenly become illegal. The civic officials are carrying out the action at the behest of local politicians or builders. So, the action should be taken against such officials not only in case of Bandra but across the city of Mumbai,” said Nirupam, a former MP.