‘Netas giving away onions for Rs 5’

Mumbai, January 14 (agencies): Where do you think you will get the cheapest onions? Shiv Sena shakhas, MNS stalls, or Akhil Bharatiya Sena’s offices? Well, selling the vegetable at Rs 5 for a kg, the latter takes the cake, that is, if you discount MNS MLAs giving it away for free. The vegetable that has toppled governments and brought public outrage on the streets will be sold at the deflated price at the NM Joshi Marg office of Arun Gawli-led Akhil Bharatiya Sena this Sunday.
As political parties transform into onion vendors, you are unlikely to doubt that the popular vegetable has occupied centre stage on populist agenda. Last Sunday, Raj Thackeray-led MNS put up stalls across the city to sell onions for Rs 9 per kilo. The sale is still on. During monsoon last year, with food inflation cranking up, the Shiv Sena had started selling vegetables at cheaper rates at its shakhas. Geeta, Gawli’s daughter and a corporator from the party, said, “It was my father’s decision that we should sell onions to the needy who cannot afford it. The programme will start at 11 am and will last as long as the stock lasts.”
The party is dipping into its kitty to sell the onions at the marked-down price, about 12 times less than the market price of up to Rs 60. “Every party is doing it now. We are using the party fund for this cause,” Gita said. Even super markets that get vegetables at wholesale rates cannot afford to go below Rs 60 per kg.
Free for all
The MNS, on the other hand, did a little preplanning to bring affordable onions to Mumbaikars. Party Vice-President Shalini Thackeray said, “Farmers sell onions at Rs 8-10 per kg. We commoners in Mumbai get it at Rs 60-80. But MNS bought it directly from farmers in Nashik and Solapur at Rs 9-13 per kg. We are selling it at the same rate. In the last five days, we distributed 100 tonnes of onion.”
In fact, in its bid to outstrip all other competitors, the party’s MLA from Ghatkopar West, Ram Kadam, distributed 11,000 kg of onion free of cost today. The stock didn’t last beyond a couple of hours. But one political party from the saffron band is sitting this one out. The BJP said it wouldn’t stoop to selling onions as a political stunt. It believes that it’s not the job of political parties.
“We do not believe in these gimmicks. We believe in solving the matter. The party has decided that we would protest and get the government to solve the issue. We have been successful in certain ways so far. Whoever is doing it, it is because of the forthcoming corporation elections,” BJP state spokesperson, Madhav Bhandari, said.