Following the row over naming the Bandra-Worli sealink, the state government on Wednesday courted another controversy by naming the Mumbai-Pune Expressway after Maharashtra’s first chief minister, the late Yashwantrao Chavan.
The state Cabinet gave its approval after Water Resources Minister Ajit Pawar moved a proposal suggesting Chavan’s name for the country’s first expressway.
Chavan, a Congress leader, was the mentor of Nationalist Congress Party chief Sharad Pawar.
The Shiv Sena-BJP, under whose regime the expressway was designed and completed, objected to the move saying that it had already named the road after noted litterateur PL Deshpande when the saffron alliance was in power till 1999.
Led by Shiv Sena’s Raigad unit chief, Baban Patil, a group of about 40 Sena workers put up a board in the Kalamboli area of the expressway.
Patil, along with his supporters, have been booked for violating prohibitory orders in the area.
Chief Minister Ashok Chavan said the choice was appropriate. “Mr [Yashwanrao] Chavan played a stellar role in creating independent Maharashtra and strived for its development,” said the chief minister.
Sena leader Sanjay Raut said the saffron combine did not oppose Chavan’s name.
“The Sena chief had given Deshpande’s name to the expressway. There is no question of changing it.” He suggested the state could consider giving Chavan’s name to the Mumbai-Kolhapur highway.
However, a senior Sena leader said on condition of anonymity that Deshpande’s widow, Sunita, had rejected the Sena-BJP’s idea. “Our government did not pursue the matter further, and later we lost power in the elections.”
Similar protests were staged when the government decided to name the sealink after the late prime minister Rajiv Gandhi.