Even as the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) tried to flex its political muscle in preparation for next year’s civic polls with its large-scale celebrations for Maharashtra day, the ruling party entered into a fresh war with ally Shiv Sena, this time over the scrapping of 52 BEST bus routes. The Sena was left fuming after the BEST decided to scrap these routes, just days after the BEST committee was taken over by the BJP and a BJP corporator, Mohan Mithbavkar, was appointed as its chairman.
Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray said that the Sena will not allow the decision to go through. Yuva Sena chief Aaditya Thackeray, later in the evening tweeted his opposition, even asking chief minister Devendra Fadnavis to lodge a probe into who took the decision. “Shocked and amused to see BEST pull off 52 buses from important routes in the city. Shameful and irresponsible of those who did it. The BEST isn’t an organisation to make profit only. That may happen. But the primary aim is to serve citizens via public transport at large.”
Aaditya, while not attacking the BJP directly, hinted his displeasure at his party’s ally for not sorting their priorities. “Such an irony that a popular service, BEST, that should be improved with support from state govt, while the Metro shed that destroys Aarey is pushed.”
This came, even as the BJP celebrated Maharashtra day in full gusto, planning events across the city on Sunday. The Sena has generally been associated with celebrations on the day, with its local shakhas going all out to celebrate the day. Many are looking at the celebrations as the beginning of the BJP’s poll campaign for the 2017 civic polls. The party has made little efforts to hide this, with the lines ‘Ekmev Dhyey, Pragati Mumbaichi, Maharashtrachi’ (Mumbai and Maharashtra’s progress is our only aim).
Uddhav, meanwhile, took potshots at the BJP’s celebrations of the day, even while it supported the creation of a separate Vidarbha state. “Everyone must celebrate Maharashtra day, no doubt about it. But everyone must celebrate it with one wish in mind, that not an inch of the state will be taken away from it.” He also went on to slam former state advocate general Shrihari Aney over his comments on observing Maharashtra day as a ‘black day’, over the demand for statehood for Vidarbha. “We will never let Maharashtra be broken into pieces because of a handful of people. These are people who will attack their own mother’s womb, which gave birth to them.”