The Maharashtra Pradesh Congress Committee (MPCC) and the state Youth Congress (YC) threw their weight behind the party’s city unit office bearers who on Monday forced Aditi Pure Veg restaurant in Parel to down shutters, following a remark printed on its bills.
While MPCC chief Manikrao Thakre said it was a conspiracy to malign UPA government, state YC chief Vishwajeet Kadam said the stand taken by his office bearers was justifiable. But state BJP president Devendra Fadnavis, however, condemned the act and asked for stringent action like putting the youth wing members behind bars.
The action created ripples at Vidhan Bhavan where the monsoon session of the state legislature is in progress. It was the hot topic of discussion among ministers and legislators, but only a few chose to react openly.
“It was an attempt to misguide people and we will not allow it to continue,” state Congress president Thakre said. “There are ways to express feelings against the government. The restaurateur could have written about it to the authorities concerned if he wanted to lodge his protest over the taxes. The youth Congress workers did not ransack the hotel, nor did they beat anyone. Instead they chose to lodge a complaint with the police. I support this move,” said the MPCC chief.
Reacting to the tweet by Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi where he calls the action by Congress members intolerant, Thakre said it was unwarranted. “No politics should be played with the attempt to malign the Congress,” he said.
The BJP did not look kindly upon the developments on Monday. Fadnavis said the Congress had lost faith in democracy and the party wanted to ban freedom of expression. “If you indulge in corruption people will react and you cannot muzzle it. The move by Youth Congress workers was anti-democracy. Police should file cases against the workers involved and put them behind bars.”
State YC president Kadam said, “Soon after city Youth Congress office bearers came to know of the move a formal complaint was lodged with the local police station. Besides the bill, several other complaints were coming in against the hotel management such as those of encroachment, the service offered to people and behaviour of hotel staff. The youth wing members wanted to register their protest. The protest was peaceful and no damage was done to the hotel property,” Kadam said, adding, “The words used on the bills by the restaurant were a campaign against the Congress.”
Responding to Modi’s tweet, he said the Gujarat chief minister had no right to comment as several lives had been lost during the riots in Gujarat.
Efforts to reach Home Minister R R Patil yielded no fruit but a senior NCP leader said the eatery could not be forced to down shutters. Police should be asked to help the restaurateur open it.