While the strike at the city bus
service BEST entered the sixth day Sunday, Shiv Sena chief
Uddhav Thackeray said his party will fulfil its promise to
merge the budget of the transport undertaking with that of the
Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC).
The Sena controls the BMC apart from being a partner
in the BJP-led Maharashtra government.
One of the demands of the BEST workers who are on
strike since Tuesday is merger of the budgets of the BMC and
the loss-making BEST.
The Sena had promised merger of the budgets during the
civic poll campaign in 2017.
"The financial condition of the BEST has deteriorated.
I had given the promise of merger of the budgets and that will
be fulfilled. A solution can be found only through the talks.
Even though the BEST strike issue is in the court, I am ready
to be part of the discussion if necessary," Thackeray said.
He also said with the BEST facing financial troubles,
unreasonable demands would create more problems.
A Sena-affiliated union had withdrawn from the strike
on the second day and its leaders had claimed a minimum of 500
buses will start plying on the roads from the next day.
But the claim fell flat on its face as barely any bus
has run on Mumbai's streets in the last seven days.
Talking about BMC commissioner Ajoy Mehta hinting at
privatisation as an option, Thackeray said it could not be the
"We will not let the ownership slip away from us
(BMC). There could be privatisation of few buses but no final
decision has been taken yet," he said.
Meanwhile, the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS), led
by Uddhav's estranged cousin Raj Thackeray, threatened to hit
the streets on Monday if the state government, BMC
administration and the ruling parties failed to find a
solution and end the strike.
"We support the strike and the BEST employees. Their
demands are just. If those demands are not met, the MNS will
launch a protest," said MNS leader Sandip Deshpande.