The Shiv Sena that has so far kept mum on the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena’s (MNS’s) agitation against street hawkers has now decided to come out in their favour. Senior Sena leader Sanjay Raut Monday said protests being undertaken to remove hawkers who had valid licences did not make sense. “Those who have licences and are legally doing their business have a right to earn their living. They eke out a living for themselves and protesting against such people does not make sense,” said Raut, a Rajya Sabha member.
Ever since the stampede at Elphinstone Road station, the MNS has been agitating against hawkers with stalls outside stations. The agitations have often turned violent. The Congress, on the other hand, has been speaking out in favour of the hawkers.
The Sena had maintained a studied silence. But with MNS chief Raj Thackeray stated to be holding a public rally on November 18 in Thane where he may spell out his party’s aggressive stance against hawkers, the Sena has decided to take a stand. On Sunday, the party’s hawkers’ wing held a meeting in Goregaon demanding that action against hawkers should be stopped and those displaced rehabilitated.
Tension has been increasing between the Sena and the MNS, both headed by the estranged Thackeray cousins. They have been estranged since 2006 when Raj Thackeray split from the Shiv Sena and both have maintained an on-off relationship communicating occasionally in private.