After years of arguing against the nightlife proposal, the BJP has now softened its stand. When the idea was first floated in the BMC by the Shiv Sena in 2013, BJP corporators had resisted it, citing security concerns and the disturbance to citizens in residential areas.
A day after the Assembly approved an amendment to the Maharashtra Shops and Establishments Act to allow shops and eateries to stay open all night, mid-day spoke to a few senior BJP leaders in the BMC, who now seem to welcome the move.
BJP group leader Manoj Kotak said, "Our only demand was that nightlife should not be allowed in residential areas. That demand is being incorporated in the Bill, so now we don't have any objection. People in residential areas should not be disturbed due to nightlife."
Other BJP corporators had opposed the nightlife plan on the grounds of possible law law and order issues. But they, too, have changed their stand. Ram Barot, former Improvement Committee chairman and senior corporator, said, "Mumbai is an international city and it should have malls and hotels open for all 24 hours. It is a good decision."
When asked about the safety concerns raised earlier, Barot responded, "Once the nightlife proposal takes off, we will get to know about the problems and solve them accordingly."
Another senior BJP corporator, Prakash Gangadhare said, "We welcome the nightlife plan. The only condition is that hotels, shops and malls should ensure that their employees are dropped home safely after duty hours."
A senior official from BMC said, "Nothing much will change after the law comes into effect. We have to only ensure that all the workers from hotels, malls and other establishments should be given only 8-hour shifts and weekly offs."
Earlier, corporator Gangadhare had opposed Sena's open-terrace restaurant plan, stating that it was against our culture. Yuva Sena chief Aaditya Thackeray had proposed all hotels and commercial buildings should be allowed to operate open-terrace eateries at night.
In the past, Sena and BJP had fought over nightlife proposals. While BJP had opposed Sena's 24x7 nightlife plan and open-terrace policy, the Sena was also against BJP's proposal of starting a night market with hawkers.