Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray has said his party will fulfill its promise of merging the budget of the transport undertaking BEST with that of the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC), as the strike of the city bus service entered the sixth day on Sunday. The Sena controls the BMC apart from being a partner in the BJP-led Maharashtra government.
Workers of the BEST bus service, who are on strike since Tuesday have demanded the 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.
Unreasonable demands would create more problems with the BEST facing financial troubles, he said.
A Sena-affiliated union had withdrawn from the strike on the second day and its leaders had claimed a minimum of 500 buses will start plying on the roads from the next day.
The claim however, 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 final solution.
"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.