After targeting a north Indian vendor last week, the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) has now turned its attention on Navratri mandals that are usually dominated by the Gujarati community. The party has asked the Brihanmumbai Municipal Commission to recover rent on commercial rates from the mandals using civic grounds for Dandiya events or seek a 50 per cent revenue share from them.
MNS corporator Sandeep Deshpande has written to Municipal Commissioner Ajoy Mehta demanding that the BMC give the civic grounds on commercial rates rather than nominal rates. “All these Dandiya mandals take BMC plots on nominal rates and earn lakhs of rupees on it. On the other hand, the civic body charges commercial rates from Ganesh mandals for putting up sponsors’ banners. Why the same rule is not applied to Dandiya mandals,” he said.
The MNS demand is being seen as a move to woo the Marathi population in Mumbai ahead of the civic polls next year. Deshpande said it was unjust on part of the BMC to have different norms for different communities celebrating their festivals. “The BMC should either charge commercial rates for the grounds on or take 50 per cent share in the profit earned by the Dandiya mandals,” he said.
The BJP, however, slammed the MNS for “politicising” the matter and “selectively targeting” the Gujarati community. “Navratri and Durga Puja festivals are celebrated by every Mumbaikar. Why was MNS silent when the slaughterhouses were erected on roads and maidans during Eid? This is an attempt by the MNS to divide Hindus. There are many other issues that can be raised for civic polls. Such issues can be kept aside,” said BJP corporator Manoj Kotak.
Earlier this month, MNS workers had assaulted a vendor for allegedly not allowing a Nashik farmer to sell his veggies in Amrut Nagar area in Ghatkopar (W).