In Maharashtra, tensions are high as the ruling party and opposition party prepare to engage in protests on the streets of Mumbai on December 17. The Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) has planned a “Halla Bol” march to protest the Eknath Shinde government, while the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), an ally of the ruling party, will hold counter-protests. The financial capital of the country is expected to be the site of these demonstrations.
As announced by Leader of Opposition Ajit Pawar on December 15, the MVA protest will address recent controversies such as the remarks about Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj by Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari, the Maharashtra-Karnataka border dispute, inflation and the industrial investments expected for Maharashtra instead going to Gujarat.
According to several media reports, Uddhav Thackeray-led MVA has planned a mega protest from Richardson and Crudass near JJ Hospital. The march will culminate in a rally at Azad Maidan in the Fort area of South Mumbai, where all the senior MVA leaders including Uddhav Thackeray (UBT), will address the crowd.
Counter protest by BJP
Mumbai BJP chief Ashish Shelar announced that his party would organise a “Maafi Mango” protest in Mumbai on December 17, demanding an apology from the MVA for “insulting” Dr BR Ambedkar and Hindu deities.
Shelar alleged that Sena (UBT) leader Sanjay Raut tried to create a controversy over Ambedkar’s birthplace, while another leader Sushma Andhare “insulted” Lord Ram, Lord Krishna, saint Dynaneshwar and saint Eknath as well as the Warkari community.
Mumbai Police braces for the battle
According to a report by Mid-Day, the Mumbai police hasn’t granted permission till the time of going to print, but Shinde said the government won’t obstruct a democratic protest. On the other hand, an official told News18 that the city police has given permission for the MVA’s protest march on the condition that the organisers obtain necessary permissions from the traffic department and civic body.
While granting permission, police also asked the leaders of all political parties not to make provocative speeches during the protest marches or use posters, placards or banners that may hurt the sentiments of any person, the official added.
An adequate number of police personnel will be deployed on the route of the march to maintain law and order. According to the official quoted above, as many as 317 police officers, 1,870 constables, 22 platoons of State Reserve Police Force (SRPF) and at least 30 squads of Riot Control Police will be on hand to maintain law and order.