Raj Thackeray slams Nana Patekar over his comments supporting hawkers

Mumbai: Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) chief Raj Thackeray on Saturday slammed actor Nana Patekar for supporting street vendors and said he should not speak on subjects about which he knew nothing.

Thackeray said he would send the copy of the Bombay High Court’s directives on hawkers, along with a copy of his letter, to all the police stations, Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) ward offices and station masters and added that if any street vendor was found hawking in their jurisdiction, he would lodge a contempt of court case against the officials.

Patekar, while speaking at an event at the Veermata Jijabai Technological Institute (VJTI) on Friday, had said street vendors were not at fault and that they were only working to satiate their hunger.

“We cannot take away their source of livelihood…. Actually, it is our mistake. Why did we not question the municipal corporation and administration that why were these street vendors not provided a place all this while? We are responsible, not the street vendors,” he had said.

Slamming Patekar over his comments, the MNS chief said he was a good actor, but he should not talk of issues he knew nothing about.

“If he (Patekar) thinks it was the government’s job to take care of the street vendors, why did he start his (NAAM) foundation? It was the government’s job to ensure that water reached everybody. Why did you not ask the government to do its job?” he asked.

Thackeray said Patekar did not speak up when Marathi films did not get slots in the theatres and added that it was his party which had ensured that regional films got prime time slots.

He said if the hawkers were poor, then so were the 60-70 lakh salaried class people commuting by local trains daily and added that that vendors could at least spend Rs 100 every day as ‘hafta’, but a common man could not even do that.

Thackeray said over the next few days, MNS office-bearers would be asked to hand over a copy of the court’s directives, along with a copy of his letter, to all the police stations, ward offices and station masters.

“If anybody is still found hawking, I will lodge a contempt of court case against the officials. Then keep going to court for hearings,” he said.

Cracking the whip on illegal hawkers in the city, the Bombay High Court had, on November 1, restricted hawking to only the designated zones, while banning the activity on foot and rail overbridges and within 150 metres of railway stations.

Thackeray further said the population of Mumbai had increased uncontrollably and added that one never knew when someone would indulge in an anti-national activity.

“The situation is so bad that we do not need to fight Pakistan. We will keep fighting among ourselves if something happens. Today, we do not know who lives in the slums, drives the taxis or auto rickshaws. We are ignoring the possible threats,” Thackeray said.