Thackeray revives call for permits for non-Mumbaikars

Mumbai | Updated: Jul 31 2006, 05:30am hrs
Beleaguered Shiv Sena chief, Bal Thackeray, has once again raked up the issue of providing permits on a priority basis to curb influx into Mumbai. He has revived this demand to regain lost support of Marathi manus ahead of elections to the BrihanMumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) due next year.

It may be recalled that state chief minister, Vilasrao Deshmukh, after the July 26 deluge last year, had also said Mumbais capacity to absorb the load of migrating population was over. Deshmukh, aware that he could not support the demand for a permit system mainly due to constitutional and legal provisions as also political compulsions, however, had also hinted that Mumbais current infrastructure might collapse in future. Nearly 300 families enter the city every day to try their luck.

During the five-year Sena-BJP rule from 1995-99, Thackerays aide and former chief minister Manohar Joshi, had indicated that the government was keen to go in for the permit system. This had created a furore. But neither Thackeray nor the saffron alliance government could do much, even though the BJP-led government was in power at the Centre during 1998-2004.

Thackeray has all along been quite vocal against the influx of Bangladeshi Muslims in a big way in Greater Mumbai. He has been open about his anguish against the community over the years, while clarifying that he was not against any community but against those fueling an anti-India campaign.

This time, the Shiv Sena supremo chose the occasion of the inauguration of the new Shiv Sena Bhavan in north-central Mumbai on Thursday to revive his demand for a permit system for outsiders. His timing is crucial as he has already held the ruling Congress responsible for its appeasement policies and regularising unauthorised constructions to draw political mileage.

The Shiv Sena-BJP combine has been ruling Indias richest civic body for over a decade, which has been their lifeline. With the rebellion by his nephew, Raj, who severed links with Sena to float Maharashtra Navnirman Sena and Thackerays Man Friday, Narayan Rane, ditching him to join the Congress, the Shiv Sena chief is trying to leave nothing to chance this time.