It's inside, outside for Mumbai's two guardian ministers

Updated: Apr 21, 2020, 07:37 IST | Sanjeev Shivadekar | Mumbai

While Island City's guardian minister Aslam Shaikh's makes consistent field trips, Aaditya Thackeray has been accused of staying absent from the action on the ground in the suburbs; Shiv Sena says he is updated through video calls

Aaditya Thackeray keeps himself updated via video conferencing
Aaditya Thackeray keeps himself updated via video conferencing

While the guardian minister of Mumbai Island City, Aslam Shaikh has conducted over half-a-dozen meetings with the BMC, city collector, doctors and police officials in his jurisdiction, his colleague Aditya Thackeray, guardian minister of suburban Mumbai, has been missing in action. Shaikh, in the last 21 days, has conducted three to four meetings with the island city collector. "He also met with other officials to take stock of the situation," a government official said on condition of anonymity.

"When everyone is on the field to fight this crisis, how can I stay home? I believe that the presence of leaders on the ground helps build confidence in the system," Shaikh said, while maintaining that public representatives need to follow all standard operating procedures and guidelines (including social distancing) while doing so.

While Aslam Shaikh makes on ground visits
While Aslam Shaikh makes on ground visits

Thackeray, an MLA from the Worli Assembly constituency and state environment minister, on the other hand, is nowhere to be seen on the field. Hundreds of aggrieved people last week gathered outside Bandra station West after which local BJP MLA Ashish Shelar, and Zeeshan Siddique, Congress MLA rushed to the spot and attempted to pacify the mob.

Ever since the Opposition BJP has been questioning the absence of Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray's son. "He resides barely a kilometre away from the spot where the incident took place. But Thackeray neither came to the spot nor made a single call to me to discuss the issue," Shelar quipped, adding that not a single meeting had been called yet by the guardian minister with local civic officials/public representatives.

Thackeray junior did not respond to mid-day's messages or calls despite several attempts. A senior Sena leader, however, claimed that the first-time MLA fixes issues as early as possible if someone approaches him with problems. "As all this is done using technology and without making any noise, many may not feel his presence on the ground like other politicians," the party functionary said.

"Both the guardian ministers of Mumbai are doing their jobs but their styles cannot be compared," he added.

Shaikh also scored when the police in Malvani (in his Assembly constituency) organised a flag march to ensure a complete lockdown in the area.

The MLA participated in the march while Thackeray Jr has not visited Worli even once in the lockdown despite Koliwada (in his constituency) being one of the largest containment zones in the city.

A party leader, once again on his behalf, said, "Aditya ji is in touch with municipal corporators, ward officials, police personnel and even citizens through phone calls and video conferences. He has been taking reports of each and every development in the area and the rest of the city," the Sena functionary insisted.

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