It’s been a week of attacks and counter-attacks, with ruling allies BJP and Shiv Sena now squabbling both openly and covertly.
A day after Uddhav Thackeray attacked the Centre for its decision to decommission high-value notes, CM Devendra Fadnavis and senior BJP leaders skipped a function in which the CM was to share the stage with Thackeray. While BJP sources said the CM was at another event and had not confirmed attending this one, other BJP ministers, including education minister Vinod Tawde and minister of state for environment, Pravin Pote, and MP Poonam Mahajan did not attend the function at Kalanagar.
The event, organised by the pollution control board and transport department, was for the inauguration of air purifying units and a rural taxi scheme.
The BJP’s reaction comes a day after Thackeray upped his opposition of the Modi government’s demonetisation decision and joined Opposition parties in attacking the Centre for advancing the general budget to February, ahead of polls in several states. He indicated his party will not go begging for an alliance for the upcoming civic polls.
Sources in the BJP told HT Thackeray’s latest attack — despite Fadnavis taking measures to ensure the Sena chief was present when the Prime Minister launched development projects last month — did not go down well with party top brass.
“The scope for an alliance now is slim as Thackeray is consistently attacking the Centre and PM over an issue we are sensitive about. After such a public attack, it would have made no sense to sit together with Sena ministers for a function,’’ said a senior party functionary. Officially, though, the chief minister’s office maintained Fadnavis had a prescheduled event at Aurangabad at noon and a rally in Nagpur later, and had sent no confirmation for this event. The Sena function was at 10.30am and Fadnavis could have only made a brief appearance, sources said.
Thackeray launched the new Shivgramin Taxi Scheme and the country’s first air purifying system WAYU. Thackeray did not name the BJP but said despite taking public interest initiatives, the BMC was being unnecessarily targeted. He brought up the issue of cutting trees for a Metro car shed at Aarey Colony — a project the BJP has been pushing despite opposition. “We want development that will allow inhaling clean air and providing pure food,” he said.
BJP, Sena squabble over lease policy
The BJP criticised its partner for rejecting a proposal that would have “benefitted the Marathi Manoos”. The BJP was referring to the Sena rejecting a policy that would allow BMC to renew leases and let the tenant regulate breaches within three years.
BJP MLA Ashish Shelar, at a press conference, questioned the Sena’s motives on development. There are 4,177 plots in the city that the BMC let out for a 30-9-9 year period. The lease of 236 properties has expired. The Sena had rejected the proposal as it does not want to renew the lease of Mahalakshmi Race Course, which it wants to develop as a theme park — a demand that was a part of its 2014 poll manifesto.
Shelar said, “ Some 80% of the people staying in these properties are Maharashtrians. They can’t be redeveloed without a renewal. The BMC will also benefit by collecting penalties. Why were their mouths shut when the policy was passed in improvement committee?”
Trushna Vishwasrao, Sena corporator said, “We rejected the proposal as we don’t want the race course lease to be renewed. We want a proposal without the schedule W properties.”
Schedule W properties include plots such as the race course land and gymkhanas.