Move over Bhaiyyas, Kannadigas no pushovers


Contrary to popular belief that people from Bihar constitute the bulk of migrants living in Mumbai, an economic survey by the Maharashtra government has come up with facts which Maharashtra Navanirman Sena chief Raj Thackeray could have done well to pore through before launching his attack against ‘North Indians’, pejoratively called  ‘Biharis’, in India’s financial capital.

The fact is Karnataka, and not Bihar, is next to Uttar Pradesh in sending migrants to Mumbai, the state’s Economic Survey for 2008-2009, tabled in both Houses of the Legislature on the eve of the budget presentation, says.

The survey found that in the past five years 12.39 lakh migrants arrived in Mumbai and elsewhere in the state from different parts of the country.

Out of them, Uttar Pradesh alone contributed 4.23 lakh, while Biharis, against whom the MNS lanched its violent agitation, numbered only 51,000.

That would be a paltry number compared to the 1.35 lakh people who migrated from Karnataka to Maharashtra, followed by Gujarat which sent 1.19 lakh people, Rajasthan 82,000, Kerala 41,000 and Andhra Pradesh 32,000. It does point to a nugget of Mumbai’s history, though: Long before Raj Thackeray launched his agitation against Biharis, his uncle, Bal Thackeray, made a mark in urban politics by attacking the shops and restaurants owned by South Indian migrants in the mid-1970s.

Of the total migrant population, an overwhelming majority of 10.74 lakh people crowd urban areas, particularly Mumbai, putting enormous strain on the civic infrastructure, the survey said.

Political analysts fear that the survey findings might give a fresh lease of life to the anti-North Indian campaign launched by the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena, which got 23 per cent votes in Mumbai during the just-concluded Lok Sabha elections.

Not only migrants from outside Maharashtra, but a large number of rural folk from the state, numbering 22.62 lakh, have arrived in the state’s major cities during the last five years. Among the migrants, 5.64 lakh came in search of job, the survey pointed out.

Scheme opposed

Meanwhile, a proposed rental housing scheme at Virar on the northern outskirts of Mumbai for migrants met  rough weather on Wednesday when Shiv Sena executive president Uddhav Thackeray alleged that it was solely designed to benefit outsiders.
However, the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA), which is developing the project in association with Housing Development and Infrastructure Ltd (HDIL), in a statement, clarified that the project was meant for domiciled people of Maharashtra.

Govt slammed

Shiv Sena executive president Uddhav Thackeray  charged that the Congress-led Maharashtra government had devised the rental project with an objective to “reduce Maharashtrians into a minority in Mumbai and surrounding areas.”

“This is in fact a plot to separate Mumbai from Maharashtra. Come what may, the Shiv Sena will not allow this kind of projects,” Uddhav Thackeray added.

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