The Shiv Sena has defended senior party leader and Transport Minister Diwakar Raote’s recent announcement that new autorickshaw permits will be issued only to drivers who speak Marathi, saying it was an old law which he had sought just to apply.
The party also tried to link the issue with the upcoming Bihar Assembly polls as it charged that ‘those who have sidelined development and are harping on the auto permits issue are responsible for making Bihar a backward state’. “There is no need for us to give figures of how many of the auto and taxi drivers in Mumbai are Marathi and how many are outsiders. Nobody has issued ‘fatwa’ (diktat) that those who are outsiders should leave,” Sena said in an editorial in its mouthpiece, ‘Saamana’.
“What is wrong in saying that it is essential that auto and taxi drivers here know Marathi,” the editorial said, adding, “There is a one-sided criticism of Raote for the decision.” The article went on to add that it ‘is an old law that local language is mandatory for drivers. However, it was not being implemented. What wrong has Raote done by implementing it,” the Sena said. “We are of the view that elections in Bihar should be fought on the development agenda. However, those who have sidelined development and are harping on the auto permits issue are responsible for making Bihar a backward state,” it said.