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Mumbai Congress MP Nirupam stirs hornet's nest

Monday October 24, 2011 09:18:30 PM, IANS

Nagpur/Mumbai: Congress MP Sanjay Nirupam stirred a hornet's nest Monday by publicly stating that north Indians, if required, could bring Mumbai to a grinding halt.

"We are not a burden on Mumbai," the MP from Mumbai said at a huge rally in Maharashtra's winter capital Nagpur. "If north Indians take a single day off, Mumbai will practically paralysed."

Bal Thackeray's Shiv Sena and nephew Raj Thackeray's Maharashtra Navnirman Sena -- each with a strong anti-north Indian posture -- reacted predictably and dared former Shiv Sena member Nirupam to carry out the threat.

However, the surprise came from the instant reaction of Congress colleague, Maharashtra Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan, who attempted to nip any controversy that might affect the party's prospects in the vital civic elections in February 2012.

"We will not allow anyone to shut down Mumbai," Chavan said. "Mumbai's normal life must always be allowed to function smoothly. We shall all continue to work together for Mumbai's development."

Earlier, Nirupam had said: "We carry Mumbai's burden on our backs. Our roots are deeply entrenched in Mumbai and those trying to weed us out would themselves be rooted out." Nirupam was alluding to the MNS's shrill anti-north Indian diatribe in recent times.

North Indians are engaged in several critical service oriented trades and businesses in the city, ranging from milkmen, vegetable vendors, taxi drivers, snack vendors and pan shop owners and their numbers are strong enough to matter in electoral calculations.

Reacting sharply, Shiv Sena executive president Uddhav Thackeray challenged Nirupam to carry out the threat and demanded to know the Congress leadership's views on the issue.

An angry Thackeray openly dared Nirupam -- once his close confidante who had drummed up the support of north-Indians for the Shiv Sena -- to carry out his threat of imposing a Mumbai bandh.

"I dare Nirupam to shut down Mumbai and the Marathi people here will smash his teeth," Uddhav threatened, warning of Sena-style reaction.

Though MNS chief Raj Thackeray kept mum, his close associate and legislator Bala Nandgaonkar said: "Nirupam is making these statements only to gain cheap publicity. But now he seems isolated in his own party."

Incidentally, Nirupam had gained in a big way in the 2009 Lok Sabha elections due to the MNS' shrill campaign against north Indian migrants, and bagged the Mumbai North seat, earlier held by Bollywood actor Govinda.







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