Uddhav Thackeray, Rane trade barbs at inauguration of Chipi airport

Updated on Oct 10, 2021 12:26 AM IST

Rane, in his speech, accused party leaders of corruption and stalling work on the airport, road project, and tourism-related projects in Konkan. Thackeray indirectly took potshots at Rane stating that he was expelled from the party by Sena supremo Bal Thackeray for speaking “lies”

Chief minister Uddhav Thackeray, union aviation minister Jyotiraditya Scindia (through video conference) and Union minister for micro, small and medium enterprises Narayan Rane inaugurated the Chipi airport in Sindhudurg district of Maharashtra's Konkan region. Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar, Revenue Minister Balasaheb Thorat, Environment Minister Aaditya Thackeray were also present at the occasion. (HT Photo)
Chief minister Uddhav Thackeray, union aviation minister Jyotiraditya Scindia (through video conference) and Union minister for micro, small and medium enterprises Narayan Rane inaugurated the Chipi airport in Sindhudurg district of Maharashtra's Konkan region. Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar, Revenue Minister Balasaheb Thorat, Environment Minister Aaditya Thackeray were also present at the occasion. (HT Photo)
By, Mumbai

Chief minister Uddhav Thackeray and Union minister Narayan Rane traded barbs at the inauguration of the Chipi greenfield airport in Sindhudurg, where the two leaders shared the dais on Saturday. Civil aviation minister Jyotiraditya Scindia participated in the function through video conferencing.

Thackeray and Rane came face to face for the first time since the Union minister was arrested for his remarks that he would have slapped the former for forgetting the years of India’s Independence in August, this year. The two leaders who shared the dais after several years did not greet each other while inaugurating the plaque of the airport and later while being seated next to each other.

Without naming any Sena leader, Rane, in his speech, accused party leaders of corruption and stalling work on the airport, road project, and tourism-related projects in Konkan. Thackeray, meanwhile, indirectly took potshots at Rane stating that he was expelled from the party by Sena supremo Bal Thackeray for speaking “lies”. He further said this is not the place or time to criticise each other, adding that he would not let politics come in way of development.

Thackeray flagged off the first flight from Chipi airport to Mumbai, while Scindia parallelly flagged off the flight virtually from Delhi. The airport was stuck for over three decades due to various reasons. The Sena and BJP are claiming credit for the project. The project is particularly important for tourism and the overall development of the Konkan region, which is the stronghold of Sena, and where BJP is trying to gain a foothold.

Scindia who made it a point to speak in Marathi in his address said that the distance of 530km will be covered in just 50 minutes with the airport getting operational. He added, “We should have 20 to 25 aircraft (direct/connecting) for Sindhudurg, in the next five years.” The Chipi airport is built on 271 hectares of land in Chipi-Parule village in Sindhudurg district with an estimated cost of 520 crore. The construction commenced on February 19, 2013, by IRB Infrastructure Developers Limited, under Maharashtra Industrial Development Corporation.

Apart from Thackeray and Rane, deputy chief minister Ajit Pawar, revenue minister Balasaheb Thorat, Industries Minister Subhash Desai, tourism minister Aaditya Thackeray, other ministers and senior officials were present for the event in Sindhudurg.

Rane accused the Sena leader of opposing the airport in the past and indulging in corruption by stalling the development projects. “In 2009, while carrying out bhoomi pujan of the airport, there was a protest opposing the airport. Those opposing the project are present on the stage today,” said Rane. He further alleged that the work on Mumbai-Goa national highway was also opposed by Sena leaders at several places in the district and they sought money to allow the work to continue.

Rane, in his speech, took credit for the progress on the airport and overall development of the Sindhudurg district. “When Balasaheb asked me to go to Konkan in the late 90s, there was nothing here. When I became the minister [in Congress-NCP government] I gave 120 crore for roads, 118 crore for water supply. The reason for infrastructure development in Sindhudurg is Narayan Rane. No other name can be there,” he said.

Thackeray too sought to take credit for the airport during his speech. “What someone did or should do is his lookout. I can talk a lot on that subject, but today is an important day. Why did it take so many years for the airport? Why did you have to wash the utensils for so many years? The project was sorted out when this government came to power,” said Thackeray, in an apparent response to Rane.

Referring to Rane’s statement that the Sena patriarch never liked the people who lie, Thackeray said, “It is true. Therefore, Balasaheb had expelled such people from Shiv Sena at that time. This is also history.” In 2005, Bal Thackeray had expelled Rane from the Sena over anti-party activities.

Thackeray, meanwhile, said that leaders from five political parties had come together on the stage for development. He quipped that the airline that started services in Sindhudurg was named Alliance Air for the same reason. He said that he does not create political hurdles for development. Explaining his point, Thackeray said, “You might not remember, but when you called me for [approval for] your college, I signed the file [approving it] immediately. I don’t want to bring politics and narrow mindedness in the development work.”

Exchanges between Uddhav Thackeray and Narayan Rane

Uddhav Thackeray said:

“When I was doing aerial photography of the forts in Maharashtra, I saw Sindhudurg fort. As far as I know, the fort was built by Shivaji Maharaj. Otherwise, somebody would say that he built it.”

“Only the soil knows the pain because many time there are mango trees as well as are plants that have thorns. When such plants grow, what can the soil do besides cultivating it.”

“Balasaheb had expelled such people [who lie] from Shiv Sena at that time. This is also history.”

Narayan Rane said:

“When Balasaheb asked me to go to Konkan in the late 90s, there was nothing here. I took inspiration from [Bala] Saheb.”

“When I became the minister [in Congress-NCP government] I gave 120 crore for roads, 118 crore for water supply... No development has happened on the dam. What progress are you (Shiv Sena) talking about.”

“Narayan Rane is the reason for infrastructure development in Sindhudurg. No other name can be there,” he said.

“Merely invoking Shivaji Maharaj is not enough. Develop this district and show the people.”

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  • ABOUT THE AUTHOR

    Swapnil Rawal is Principal Correspondent with the Hindustan Times. He covers urban development and infrastructure. He had long stints with leading national dailies and has experience of over a decade in journalism.

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