The Shiv Sena that rules the Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai along with its ideological ally Bharatiya Janata Party, has unwittingly realised that excessive politics based on vada pav, the staple fast food of Mumbaikars, is a health hazard.
On Tuesday, the MCGM's anti-encroachment department took action against nine stalls of Shiv Vada Pav in Mumbai.
Shiv Vada Pav stalls were launched amid much fanfare by the Shiv Sena's executive president Uddhav Thackeray in 2008. Thackeray had then promised to make the vada pav a global phenomenon. He even assured tailor-made policies in the civic rules to accommodate Shiv Vada Pav stalls in public places.
However, three years later the stalls continued to operate as an illegal enterprise on the streets as the amendment in the civic law required a state nod. The MCGM administration was forced to take action on Shiv Vada Pav stalls when Swambhiman Sanghatna, an organisation run by Nitish Rane, son of state revenue minister and Congressman Narayan Rane, announced its plan to open Chhatrapati Vada stalls adjacent to the Shiv Vada stalls.
Rane junior had thrown an open challenge to the civic administration to take action on its illegal stalls. This put the civic administration in a fix which could not have taken action only on the Chhatrapati Vada stalls and ignore the Shiv Vada stalls. The civic administration was forced to act.
Narayan Rane, who had to unceremoniously quit the Shiv Sena in 2005, has since then never lost an opportunity to make a dig at Uddhav. Rane, through his son's organization, has effectively made the Sena lose its appetite for Vada Pav politics. Congress as a party did not give a fitting reply to Uddhav's pet project, a novel method to regain foothold among the Marathi vote bank, which the party feared of losing to Maharashtra Navnirman Sena.
The Congress responded by promoting and organising Kanda-Pohe, which it claimed was the original fast food of Maharashtra.