Of all the things that could be considered threats to national security or insulting to the nation, the name of a sweet shop would be very low on the list. Yet for Shiv Sena member Nitin Nandgaonkar, the sign above Karachi Sweets became an issue worth confronting the proprietor over, with a video of their interaction making its way online. Karachi Sweets has been a popular neighbourhood sweet shop in Mumbai for decades, making Nandgaonkar’s demand that its name be changed seem like it comes out of the blue. At a time when his party, the Shiv Sena, is part of the state’s ruling coalition called the Maharashtra Progressive Alliance, the demand comes across as the opposite of progressive.
Once the video went viral, many people pointed out the absurdity of waking up to the name of the sweet shop after decades. Karachi Sweets is part of Mumbai’s urban fabric, and suddenly adding anti-national overtones to a popular establishment did not go down well with many Mumbaikars. They took to Twitter to express disappointment with this action by a member of the state’s ruling party.
Given Shiv Sena’s documented history of forcing shopkeepers to down their shutters over political issues, it appears the owners of Karachi Sweets took Nandgaonkar’s demand seriously. Soon after the news of Nandgaonkar’s visit to the outlet started to spread, photos cropped up of the shop with its sign hastily covered up by newspapers.
Eventually, Shiv Sena leader and editor of the party publication Saamna, Sanjay Raut, made it clear that Nandgaonkar’s stance did not reflect the party’s. He categorically stated Karachi Sweets had “nothing to do with Pakistan”. While this does mitigate the bad publicity that came with the viral video, it also raises the question of why party workers are acting out of sync with the Shiv Sena’s official stance.
After six decades of honest business, it is murky politics that is leaving a bad taste in Karachi Sweets owner’s mouth.