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On Seventh Day of BEST Bus Strike, NCP Leader Accuses Govt of Holding Mumbai Citizens to 'Ransom'

The Sena controls the BMC apart from being a partner in the BJP-led Maharashtra government. One of the demands of the BEST workers who are on strike since Tuesday is merger of the budgets of the BMC and the loss-making BEST.

News18.com

Updated:January 14, 2019, 1:40 PM IST
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Mumbai: As the strike by BEST workers entered the seventh day on Monday, Nationalist Congress Party(NCP) leader Nawab Malik launched a scathing attack on the Shiv Sena and the BJP-led Maharashtra government. The leader said the parties are holding the citizens of Mumbai to “ransom for personal benefits.”

Shiv Sena Chief Uddhav Thackeray said on Sunday, his party will fulfil its promise to merge the budget of the transport undertaking with that of the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC).

Alleging the Sena leaders of perpetuating the strike, in order to reap political gains, Malik said, “BEST strike is being promoted to ensure the wet leasing of buses. A similar ploy was played in the case of ST buses.”

Sharpening his attack at the looming possibility of privatisation of BMC, the NCP leader added, “Shiv Sena must clarify how many buses belong to their leaders. At this rate, the BJP will also hand over contracts for electric supply to their friend Adani.”

The Sena controls the BMC apart from being a partner in the BJP-led Maharashtra government. One of the demands of the BEST workers who are on strike since Tuesday is merger of the budgets of the BMC and the loss-making BEST.

The Sena had promised merger of the budgets during the civic poll campaign in 2017.

"The financial condition of the BEST has deteriorated. I had given the promise of merger of the budgets and that will be fulfilled. A solution can be found only through the talks.

Even though the BEST strike issue is in the court, I am ready to be part of the discussion if necessary," Thackeray said.

He also said with the BEST facing financial troubles, unreasonable demands would create more problems.

A Sena-affiliated union had withdrawn from the strike on the second day and its leaders had claimed a minimum of 500 buses will start playing on the roads from the next day.

But the claim fell flat on its face as barely any bus has run on Mumbai's streets in the last seven days.

Talking about BMC commissioner Ajoy Mehta hinting at privatisation as an option, Thackeray said it could not be the final solution. "We will not let the ownership slip away from us (BMC). There could be privatisation of few buses but no final decision has been taken yet," he said.

Meanwhile, the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS), led by Uddhav's estranged cousin Raj Thackeray, threatened to hit the streets on Monday if the state government, BMC administration and the ruling parties failed to find a solution and end the strike.

"We support the strike and the BEST employees. Their demands are just. If those demands are not met, the MNS will launch a protest," said MNS leader Sandip Deshpande​.

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