Congress-NCP ask government to postpone Global Citizen Festival in Mumbai

Mumbai: Opposition Congress and NCP in Maharashtra on Thursday alleged BJP-led state government was trying to derive political mileage from the forthcoming concert of British rock band Coldplay ahead of civic polls.

Congress Mumbai unit president Sanjay Nirupam called upon State Election Commissioner J S Saharia and demanded the concert either be postponed in the view of the election code of conduct being in force, or given permission after the poll process is completed. He pointed out to Saharia the state government is a strategic partner in the event, to be held at MMRDA ground in suburban Mumbai on November 19. The BJP has invited Prime Minister Narendra Modi for the gig.

“The election code of conduct is in force in most of the state as polls to municipal councils and nagar panchayats will be held in four phases starting later this month. “The government is an active participant and has invested in the event. Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis has issued invitations for the event and the Global Citizen India website also mentions Maharashtra government as a strategic partner,” Nirupam stated in a memorandum.

He alleged that Fadnavis, who heads Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA), has granted 75 per cent concession for the gig for use of its ground in the Bandra Kurla Complex (BKC) without any policy decision.

“Entertainment tax has also been waived,” the Congress leader said. He said the government was investing in such events to “influence voters” during election time. “The government is likely to use the event as a political platform ahead of the elections,” Nirupam said. He recalled how the then Sena-BJP government had “wasted taxpayers’ money in a similar fashion for organising pop legend Michael Jackson’s show in Mumbai in the 1990s”. Nirupam urged the Election Commission to check if the concessions to the event were given by state government before the poll code came into force.

“The Coldplay event (should) either be postponed in view of the election code of conduct or given permission after the election process is completed.” Otherwise, the Commission should ensure that there are no political speeches and that political leaders are not present on the dais,” he demanded. Echoing Congress’ views, NCP spokesman Nawab Malik said the NDA government was planning to use the event for launching the BJP’s campaign for Brihanmumbai Municipal Council (BMC) polls, due early next year, by inviting the PM. “Concessions being given by MMRDA for the event should be withdrawn since it (grating the concessions) was not a policy decision,” he said.

The inaugural Global Citizen Festival India, to be held at the MMRDA ground in the Bandra-Kurla Complex in Mumbai on 19 November 2016, will be Global Citizen India’s first initiative. The Festival will be headlined by Coldplay, Jay Z, Aamir Khan, Ranveer Singh, Katrina Kaif, AR Rahman, Farhan Akhtar, Shraddha Kapoor, Arjun Kapoor, Arijit Singh, DiaMirza, Shankar Ehsaan Loy and Monali Thakur.

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