Food first,politics later: NCP man in Sena’s Vada Pav drive

Written by Express News Service | Mumbai | Published:February 19, 2009 1:07 am

EXPRESS NEWS SERVICE

FEBRUARY 18

The Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) might have made known its opposition to the Shiv Sena’s ‘Shiv Vada Pav’ scheme. But,one of the party’s own office-bearers is looking forward to a Shiv Vada Pav handcart and a second innings as a vada pav hawker with the Sena’s blessings.

District president of the NCP’s labour cell,Dilip Surodkar,has not only been a vada pav seller for 33 years who has applied for a handcart under the initiative,but his vada pav was adjudged the fourth-best in the competition held by the Sena.

“Vada pav in Mumbai is older than the Sena and the NCP,no one should politicise it,” says Surodkar who makes and sells vada pav on a footpath near the Bombay High Court. “I do not think it is wrong for an NCP worker to seek a stall under the Sena scheme. I am doing it to feed my family,” he says.

He has already paid the required Rs 95,000 to get the handcart and is awaiting the day of the formal handover.

Surodkar claims he has the blessings of union leader Sharad Rao. He says he has already spoken the matter with Sena MP Sanjay Raut and revealed his party connections. “I have told the Sena leaders that I am from the NCP,but it should not be a ground to deny me a stall. I am a small and common Marathi manoos wanting to do a legalised business,” says Surodkar,who is famous in the Fort area for his snack.

Though he holds a BMC licence to run the stall,the Supreme Court order against hawking on footpaths has come as a blow to Surodkar. The Shiv Vada Pav scheme will give him authorised rights to run the stall.

Earlier this month,an NCP delegation led by Sachin Ahir had met municipal commissioner Jairaj Phatak to protest against the Sena scheme. Ahir said using Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj’s name for vada pav was an insult to the warrior and the scheme is being initiated to legalise the Sena’s lower order ranks. He even threatened to enforce a government stay on the scheme.

Surodkar,however,is unfazed by the politics. “‘Had the NCP thought about giving stalls to people like me,I would have gladly taken part in it. The Sena is doing a noble job and I am not ashamed to be a part of the scheme,” he said.

NCP spokesperson Clyde Crasto said the party continues to oppose the Shiv Vada Pav scheme. “The seniors are unaware of Surodkar’s decision. They will decide any action against him.”

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