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Even as the state handed over the first cheque of Rs 647.34 crore to the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) as compensation for the scrapped octroi, the event, riddled with political barbs and sloganeering, concluded with a BJP corporator “being roughed up” by Shiv Sainiks. At the event held at the BMC headquarters, Shiv Sena president Uddhav Thackeray said the Sena would support the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) “on all issues promptly”, if it concedes to the Sena’s demands on policy decisions such as the Goods and Services Tax (GST).
After the GST came into the effect from July 1, the octroi, the major source of revenue for the BMC, was abolished. Hence, the state has promised to compensate the civic body for the next five years, considering the last year’s total revenue collection and with an annual 8 per cent increase on it. State Finance Minister Sudhir Mungatiwar handed over the cheque to Mayor Vishwanath Mahadeshwar in the corporation hall Wednesday. “Uddhav ji gave his support for the GST within 24 hours, moving beyond political differences and choosing economic reform. As we promised, we are giving the first cheque of the compensation to the BMC and will continue to give one every month. If the state finances improve after some time, we will give more compensation than the promised annual increase of 8 per cent,” said Mungantiwar.
In his turn, Thackeray said, “If you (the BJP) continue to accept our demands every time, then we will give you our support immediately.” The Sena chief added: “Views are still divided on the GST. Protests are taking place even in (Prime Minister) Modi’s home (state).” Thackeray said vehicles entering the city should now be checked by the police to ensure security. “So far, the BMC used to check all the vehicles entering the city while collecting octroi.
What if anybody brings RDX or AK 47s, or a Kasab enters the city? So, the police should check the vehicles for security purposes,” he said. In another display of the BJP-Sena tussle, when Thackeray stood up to speak at the event, many BJP corporators walked out of the hall. There was a sloganeering war between the Sena and the BJP inside and outside the premises throughout the event. While Sena corporators raised anti-Modi slogans inside the corporation hall, BJP corporators responded with anti-Sena slogans.
After the event was over, a BJP corporator from Colaba, Makrand Narvekar, claimed he was “beaten up” by the Shiv Sainiks at entry gate number 3 of the civic body headquarters. “While I was entering the civic body to attend the function, they tried to stop me and then they beat me up. It clearly shows the hooliganism of the Sena. On a historic day, they created a ruckus. It seemed that they are frustrated, and this led them to it. The Sena is not bothered about development,” said Narvekar, adding that a decision about registering a police complaint about the incident would be taken by the party leadership.
A Sena leader said Narvekar “provoked” the Sainiks, which led to the alleged fist-fight. “He used bad language for Balasaheb. This angered the Sainiks and they beat him up. They should know this is Balasaheb’s Sena. We are not bothered about consequences,” said the leader.