Maharashtra Rent Act controversy: Voices of dissent growing louder from BJP's own backyard
While ex-housing minister Raj Purohit claims existing Rent Act is sacrosanct, party’s Mumbai unit states hiking rent will make BJP look anti-people and damage its prospects for 2017 BMC poll
Looks like imposing the proposed amendment to the Maharashtra Rent Control Act, 1999, is going to prove a major headache for the BJP-led state government.
While the party has been receiving flak from ally Shiv Sena and opposition Congress and NCP alike, voices of dissent against the controversial amendment are growing louder from its own backyard.
Colaba MLA and former state housing minister, Raj Purohit, who drafted the last amendment in the rent act, has openly spoken against the proposed amendment. Keeping in mind the 2017 civic polls, even the party’s city unit seems to be uncomfortable with the amendment. Expressing their concerns, city leaders said implementation of the amendment would make the party look like anti-people.
On the move
Purohit says he has initiated a movement against the proposed rent hike. He claimed to have spoken to the chief minister and requested him to take into consideration all the stakeholders.
“There are a few bureaucrats who keep fuelling this issue. They are the ones who want to increase the rent. I was the housing minister in the previous BJP-Sena government, during which I had played a major role in amending the rent act. Since I’m from the party, I can’t take to the streets to protest against the government. But I am making presentations before the government and met the chief minister as well,” said Purohit.
He claimed that it is unlikely for a government, which plans to provide affordable homes to the poor and middle class, to displace about 3 lakh people.
“I’m principally against fidgeting with the rent act. Some people made statements about the amendment, so I apprised the CM about the issue and he promised to look into the matter. I requested the CM to hear out all the sides before taking any decision. The rent issue isn’t limited to Mumbai. The new amendment will affect tenants in cities like Nagpur and Pune, among others. The Act was introduced to protect the tenants from landlords. It’s a social act and needs to stay.”
Commenting on the issue, Niranjan Shetty, BJP chief spokesperson of Mumbai unit, said, “Ongoing discussion among tenants and residents about the rent act are in their nascent stage. Despite this, our leaders have openly expressed their views and said anything that is anti-people will be rejected, even if it comes from within the party. We [BJP] as a party are dedicated to serve the public and only those decisions that help the common man will be taken.”