With infra push, Modi aims for civic polls shove
PM kickstarts slew of infra projects, pitches for same party rule from Delhi to Mumbai for faster development of the city
Mumbai: In the metropolis that has been struggling with endless traffic congestion and inadequate infrastructure, Prime Minister Narendra Modi made a strong pitch for same party rule from Delhi to Mumbai even as he launched a slew of infrastructure projects.
The announcements included dedicating two fully operational metro lines for congested western suburbs, common mobility card for convenience of commuters and a ₹1,813 crore makeover of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus, one of the oldest and well-known train terminals in the world.
As the crucial Mumbai civic polls are around the corner, Modi paid about three-hour long visit to the city on Thursday, launched infrastructure projects, addressed a rally at Bandra Kurla Complex and took a metro ride from Gundavli station which is part of the newly-inaugurated metro lines.
In his 25-minute speech at the BKC which turned out to be a launch of ruling BSS-BJP alliance’s civic polls campaign, Modi insisted that the civic body should be ruled by the party that has better coordination with the government in the state and at the centre for the uninterrupted growth and development of Mumbai.
Projects that could have seen faster development of the city were interrupted for political purpose, he said.
“When there is a government dedicated to development, it is equally important that the civic body has rulers dedicated to good governance. Until then, the projects cannot be implemented in the cities. The role of the civic body in the city is very important. There is not a dearth of funds for the development of Mumbai, but it should be ensured that the funds of its share should be utilised in the right direction,” he said.
His attack was aimed at Uddhav Thackeray-led Shiv Sena, which was in power in Mumbai civic body for about 25 years. Thackeray, who snapped ties with BJP after 2019 elections, even as BJP-Shiv Sena combine won majority of assembly seats and formed government with NCP and Congress suffered major political setback as his trusted lieutenant Eknath Shinde walked away with 40 out of 54 Shiv Sena MLAs to form the government with the help of the BJP.
The BJP now aims to further reduce Thackeray’s presence by winning power in Mumbai civic body which has been the source of erstwhile Shiv Sena’s power and strength for about 25 years. With the civic polls expected to be held in a couple of months, Modi’s rally set the tone for the political battle. Expectedly, Modi did not spare a word when he slammed Thackeray faction holding it accountable for the situation in Mumbai though he did not name the party.
“If the funds are meant for the development of the city, if it is blocked in the bank’s locker if the ruling party has the mindset of putting a spanner in the development works, how can the future of Mumbai be prosperous?
“We cannot tolerate that the common man is meted out with hardship and the city remains deprived of development. We cannot tolerate this in the 21st century and especially in Shivaji Maharaj’s Maharashtra,” he remarked.
Modi added that the people of the city should take care to not let this happen again it is necessary to have a (political) system in place with better coordination in Delhi, in Maharashtra, and Mumbai with collective efforts for the development.
He also said that the PM Svanidhi scheme, which disseminates the low-interest loan of ₹10,000 to hawkers, was slowed down deliberately (by Shiv Sena-led government in state and in BMC). “In the absence of double engine government (of chief minister Eknath Shinde and deputy chief minister Devendra Fadnavis), every work and development project were hurdled and put a spammer in it. It hurt the interest of beneficiaries,” he said.
At the rally, Modi launched key infrastructure projects and launched a few others worth ₹ 38,800 crore during his three hour long visit to Mumbai on Thursday. Among the projects launched include ₹1,813 crore makeover of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Station, six sewage treatment plants at ₹17,182 crore; redevelopment of three BMC-run hospitals at Goregaon, Bhandup and Oshiwara at a cost of ₹1,108 crore and concretisation of roads measuring 400 km at ₹6,079 crore.
The projects that were inaugurated are Metro 2A and 7, built with ₹12,618 crore. The PM also launched 20 new clinics named after Shiv Sena founder Balasaheb Thackeray. Each clinic has a capacity to conduct 147 pathological tests. Modi also transferred ₹10,000 each to more than one lakh hawkers through direct benefit transfer under PM SVANidhi scheme.
He took a 7-minute ride in the newly inaugurated Metro 7 from Gundavali to Mograpada station in Andheri.
He said that the BJP or the NDA government never let politics affect development. “Development is our priority and never put a brake on development for the sake of politics. I assure the people of the city that I am ready to walk a step ahead of them on the path of development,” he said.
Modi said that in the next 25 years, many Maharashtra cities will see significant growth and Mumbai will prove to be a growth engine for the development of the country. “Not only the people of India, but many countries across the globe are looking at us positively because we have been using our capabilities very effectively. In the past, the funds meant for the benefit of the poor would be lost to corruption. There was no sensitivity towards the hard-earned money of taxpayers leading to hardship to crores of citizens. We have kept a futuristic approach and spent enormously on social and physical infrastructure for the development,” he said.
Modi also praised the state government and said that the city may develop fast under the leadership of Shinde and Fandnavis.
Chief Minister Eknath Shinde and deputy chief minister Devendra Fadnavis who spoke at the occasion also came down heavily on the Thackeray led party’s rule in Mumbai civic body.