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Politicians used us for their own publicity: Mumbai Campa Cola residents

Tension and chaos marked the beginning of the demolition process at Campa Cola compound in Worli. Though several politicians showed their support for the residents’ cause over the past month, very few actually came to the site on day one of the demolition.


Support or publicity? BJP MLA Gopal Shetty (top left), state BJP treasurer Shaina NC and corporator Makrand Narvekar were among the politicians who were present at Campa Cola compound yesterday. Pics/Satyajit Desai

Residents say that apart from hogging the limelight and indulging in self-promotion, no politician could produce any result to save their homes. Campa Cola, over the last few days, has turned into a mini parliament, with numerous politicians from various parties making appearances.

Leaders like Milind Deora (minister and Congress MP), Priya Dutt (Congress MP), Sachin Ahir (housing minister and local MLA of Worli), Bala Nandgaonkar (group leader MNS in Assembly), Rahul Shewale (BMC standing committee chairman), Dilip Patel (group leader, BJP), Mayor Sunil Prabhu, Dnyanraj Nikam (former BMC opposition leader) and Anil Desai (Shiv Sena MP) failed to turn up at Campa Cola yesterday.


Rahul Narvekar

Devyani Jayakar, resident of Orchid building at the compund, said, “During the initial days, there was a queue of politicians at our doors. Even on Monday night, many showed up. But today, when we needed them, we saw only a handful of people. The regular faces were gone. Even those who were here seemed as if they were here for the cameramen shooting pictures, not for us.”


Desperate: Anxious residents refused to let BMC workers and police enter their gates for the impending demolition. Pics/Satyajit Desai

Another resident, who didn’t wish to be named, said, “The emotional connect was missing. The politicians in no way seemed to be bothered about our homes. Every leader wanted the world to know what they were doing to help us and how they were meeting the chief minister and every other top leader. But no one actually did anything.”

Even the CM was not spared their ire. “We were expecting that the CM would hear us, but he also turned out to be a politician who did nothing. He kept our case in limbo till the last moment, and finally apologised and asked us to cooperate in getting our homes demolished. We have been let down by the political class,” added an angry Sunanda Verma.

At the site, BJP MLAs Mangal Prabhat Lodha and Gopal Shetty, state party treasurer Shaina NC, Shiv Sena spokesperson Rahul Narvekar and BMC law committee chairman Makrand Narvekar were seen protesting against the demolition. But their presence meant nothing to the families. “The politicians came to us as per their convenience. For example, a local MP was mostly out of town when we were struggling to fight our case. None of them took us to the CM till the last moment. We used to read in the newspapers how they were making claims what they had done. But nothing happened. They got their share of the limelight, and we are now homeless.”  Sachin Ahir, state housing minister and local MLA of Worli, who wasn’t there during the protest, said, “Being a part of the government and a minister, I can’t come out on the streets against the government. However, I am still with the residents in support of their cause.” 

Sena spokesperson says
We did what we felt was morally right, unlike the other leader who stood with residents till yesterday, but vanished today. This is not an issue from which we would like to gain mileage. We have been supporting the residents since day one and will continue doing the same. Our support is genuine unlike the Congress CM’s, who didn’t act in favour of the residents
— Rahul Narvekar, who was detained by the police for a while

It's unfortunate that Shivsena is agitating alongside a builder when builders & BMC created this mess in the first place! Regardless of our differences, can ALL parties at least agree to keep builders away from Campa Cola? It'll only help their cause! Maha's CM must also clearly state his intent & ability (or legal inability) to help. Like residents, I’m growing increasingly wary
— Milind Deora on Twitter @milinddeora

Out of all the political leaders who have been coming in for almost a month, hardly anyone showed up. And the few who showed up only came to make a big show of their support
—Devyani Jayakar, a resident of Orchid building in the compound living on the 12th floor

Some politicians came here to show us the support and never ended up coming when they were needed. All their promises have proved false.
—Sunanda Verma, resident of Midtown apartment

We did what we felt was morally right, unlike other leaders, who stood with residents till yesterday but vanished today. This is not an issue where we would like to take mileage from.
— Shiv Sena spokesperson Rahul Narvekar 

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