Mumbai: Shiv Sena MPs walk out of railway function

Arvind Sawant and Rajan Vichare were protesting against being invited late for events held as per the ‘BJP and the Railway’s convenience’

The BJP and Shiv Sena continue to quarrel through the façade of the alliance. The latest incident showing this was yesterday at Bandra Terminus, when Union Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu inaugurated facilities through video conferencing.

Sena MPs Arvind Sawant (with a black scarf) and Rajan Vichare refused to sit on the dias and sat in the audience
Sena MPs Arvind Sawant (with a black scarf) and Rajan Vichare refused to sit on the dias and sat in the audience

The facilities were a new platform at Bandra Terminus, an escalator at Goregaon station, and an escalator and ticket booking office at Kandivli station. The MPs of Mumbai who were invited for the event went to the stations in their constituencies; for instance MP Gopal Shetty was at Kandivli station. MPs Arvind Sawant and Rajan Vichare were at Bandra Terminus.

BJP Mumbai President Ashish Shelar (extreme left) at the event
BJP Mumbai President Ashish Shelar (extreme left) at the event

Prabhu was supposed to start the function for the Indian Railways at 2 pm at Delhi. Until around 2.35 pm or so, the dias was empty and barely few railway officers were present, after which Sawant and Vichare came to Bandra Terminus.

The dias with the empty chairs as the MPs refused to sit
The dias with the empty chairs as the MPs refused to sit

The drama
Sawant wore a black scarf in protest and he and Vichare sat in the front row of the audience instead of going on the dias. Their supporters stood behind them holding black cloths.

The reason for the protest was that the Sena has a grouse that the railways have been conducting events as per their — BJP and railways — convenience, though the facility is in a station in their constituency.

In this case, the WR officials claimed that they got to know of the event late on June 6 after which they began the preparations. The officials claim that over the past few months they come to know about the functions at the last moment from the Railway Board in Delhi.

“I have written letters to the Railway ministry about this poor following of protocol but there has been no effect,” said Sawant who claimed that for last two years he has been doing everything for improving condition of Parel station.

“We are not puppets who will dance at their (BJP’s) whims,” said Sawant.

The Western Railway officials tried to convince the MPs to sit on the dias which they refused. “We have been receiving invitations for these public events with barely 24 hours to go. This is too little a time and despite telling the rail authorities this they continue to invite us so late,” said Vichare.

In the background the event continued. Prabhu, through video conferencing began the event in Delhi, where he announced that there will be food including burgers and fries and warm milk for children inside long distance trains. But later he began an announcement about Mumbai where he did not mention MP Arvind Sawant. Soon after, the two Sena MPs left in a huff.

“There are people who cannot digest how well BJP is performing in the past two years. By obstructing a developmental project, the Shiv Sena has proved that they are against development,” said Ashish Shelar, president (Mumbai), BJP.

“This has nothing to do with BMC elections. We need not function according to the alliance party’s desires,” said Sawant.

The WR officials ran after the MPs asking them to stay for the inauguration of the new home platform, but they did not listen to them and left.

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