mid-day editorial: Make demands, but lawfully

If it is monsoon, it must be potholes, and that is the unfortunate reality in Mumbai. You need a sense of humour and a greater sense of balance to negotiate our pockmarked roads whenever it rains. This paper has been highlighting crater-filled roads and putting authorities on the spot when it comes to answers about potholes and substandard work by contractors.

The pothole cause though, has been hijacked to an extent by political parties who are not giving viable, practical solutions to the pothole problem. Instead, they are using the roads to grab eyeballs and are making impractical, ridiculous calls about why potholes should be fixed, or methods of hauling up errant contractors.

Recently, the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS), known to try and get attention at any cost, held a band baaja protest playing dhol-tashe near potholes to embarrass authorities and call attention to the problem.

While that was amusing for many Mumbaikars, there is a line between protest and causing potential problems in the city. One has to be careful not to cross that line. For MNS to threaten an ‘MNS style protest’ (read: violence) is certainly unacceptable. Reports say that the party is threatening to ‘beat up’ contractors if potholes are not fixed.

MNS group leader Sandip Deshpande even stated with pride that his party workers had slapped a labourer a couple of times, after asking him why a pothole had resurfaced just a few days after it was repaired.

This is despicable, and if it continues, the problem may turn violent on a bigger scale and disrupt law and order in the city. This is not the answer and political thugs cannot be allowed to threaten and even resort to violence. While potholes are a matter of shame and Mumbaikars may be angry at the errant, many of whom walk free, the ‘MNS style solution’ is much worse than a road which is more potholes, less road. Let’s demand better civic facilities and roads, but always within the law and without inviting the city to spiral out of control.

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