South Mumbai, the business headquarters of the country epitomizes enterprise, efficiency and smooth functioning. Hundreds of thousands of people chase their dreams in this city. Be it the vada pav vendor in Churchgate station or the electronics store in Heera Panna or the mill worker in Parel or the bank teller in Nariman point or the college student in Chowpatty. And it is this small contribution of millions of them that add up to the overall economy of the country. The three parties – Shiv Sena, MNS and AAP contesting the Lok Sabha elections from South Mumbai embrace protests as their primary governance trait. Can South Mumbai afford such violent protests that disrupt the economic engine of the country?
Unilaterally deciding that Valentine’s Day celebrations are immoral, abusing power to order illegal midnight raids on women or using linguistic differences as an alibi for attacks do not represent what South Mumbai stands for. We are law abiding citizens and have respect for the greater law of the land. We, South Mumbaikars are proud of our BoriBunder masjid, the Basilica at Kemp’s corner or the Babulnath temple. We are proud of our Marathi speaking Sewri residents, Urdu speaking Byculla residents, Gujarati speaking Malabar Hill residents or English speaking Cuffe Parade residents. We are proud that South Mumbai men, women and youth can let loose after a hard day, enjoy themselves until wee hours in the morning and get a taxi ride back home by themselves. All these three political parties aspiring to represent South Mumbai in Parliament play moral cops, resorting to any lengths to impose their judgments on the common man. Will we tolerate someone else telling us what is right or wrong based on their beliefs? Do we not cherish our moral, political, economic, religious and social freedom?
Sitting in a dharna as the Chief Minister with police security of 4000 policemen, protesting against immigrants or indulging in raasta roko are escapist attitudes of leaders of these three political parties that South Mumbai can ill afford. Contrary to what some of them may want us to believe, we are not a banana republic (Delhi perhaps came close to being one during the 49 day misrule). We need solutions, not mere protests about problems. It was such behaviour that stalled Parliament and derailed policy making in the 15th Lok Sabha. Does South Mumbai want to perpetuate this in the 16th Lok Sabha too?
Issues of South Mumbai from telecom tower radiation to errant builders to financial market deregulation to big infrastructure projects like Trans Harbour link to urban women safety to jobs for youth through National Skills Development Council to slum rehabilitation to cluster development are some of the most diverse and complex of any constituency in the country. It calls for mature, responsible and consensus oriented representation in Parliament. Mere protests, moral policing and dharnas are not going to bring solutions to South Mumbai issues.