Mumbai Mayor Vishwanath Mahadeshwar courted controversy Thursday after an 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 audio clip of the conversation between Mahadeshwar and the official is of 1 minute and 28 seconds. The clip that went viral on WhatsApp groups was later picked up by a TV news channel.
The civic body Thursday demolished at least 17 licenced stalls on Linking Road and one stall on Hill Road in Bandra (West).
Sources close to the mayor said a delegation of licence holding hawkers from Linking Road had come to him seeking help.
“Subsequently, he called up the official concerned asking why action was being initiated against them. The official said they were violating the term and conditions of the licence and not following the Bombay High Court order. The mayor then said ‘you also don’t follow the procedure and you should be suspended’,” said a Sena leader.
Further, the mayor is purportedly heard questioning the official if they were targeting the hawkers because of their religion. “It appears that the mayor made the call like he does routinely to enquire about the issue,” said the Sena leader. Mahadeshwar was unavailable for comments despite repeated attempts.
Sena legislator Anil Parab said, “There is nothing unparliamentary in the audio clip. It should be investigated why action is being taken against the hawkers who have licence.”
Senior officials said action was being taken following an HC order and a circular issued by the licence department. “Though they are licence holders, they are supposed to follow certain terms and conditions while conducting their business. Many of them have not been following the rules. So, an inspection is carried out to ascertain the violations and then show cause notice is issued. If there is no improvement, licences are cancelled,” explained an official, adding that he didn’t know the exact details of the case the mayor was referring to.