Mumbai, Jan 5: It is probably the ultimate tribute to the sons of the soil. The Shiv Sena-ruled Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has decided to put up life-size structures of the working class — dabbawallahs, vegetable vendors, fisherfolk and mill workers - in various parts of the city, as a recognition of their contribution to the making of the city of Mumbai.
As the first of the series, a thematic statue of a vegetable vendor was unveiled by the Sena executive president Uddhav Thackeray at Hutatma Bhai Kotwal garden in Dadar on Wednesday.
Not to be outdone by its ‘cousin’ party, Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS), which probably is targetting the same vote bank of Marathi manoos, has demanded that there should be a clear policy on ‘protecting’ such sculptures from anti-social elements.
MNS spokesperson Nitin Sardesai said, “Usually the statues and sculptures are not maintained properly. We have demanded that they should be protected from the anti-social elements. If BMC is unable to do so then it should drop the plan of setting up more sculptures.”
On record, MNS fears that the anti social elements will desecrate the sculptures to create problems. But off the record, the party workers say that the sculptures will destroy the dominance of the Marathi-speaking people in the city.
An MNS official argued that the sculptures will give an opportunity to the ‘outsiders’ (the migrant population) to get hold over Mumbai.
He said, “Once the outsiders see Marathi-speaking people like dabbawallahs and vegetable vendors in the form of statues and sculptures, they will think that Marathis no more exist in Mumbai. It will be harmful for Marathi people, who are dominating the city.”
Mayor Shubha Raul termed the argument baseless. She said, “The sculptures are the symbols of Mumbai. The working class has a major contribution in the development of the city. It is our honest effort to pay them tribute for their service.”