Maharashtra housing scam: Shiv Sena won’t talk about Mehta in legislature, slams him outside
Political observers speculate that the Shiv Sena is guarded as even its party man, minister of state for housing Ravindra Waikar, faced graft allegations last yearmumbai Updated: Aug 07, 2017 09:49 IST
The combative Shiv Sena has been unusually circumspect in its response to the graft allegations swirling around housing minister Prakash Mehta of the BJP. Sure, the party’s organ, Saamana, has criticised the government on the issue, but its leaders and legislators have not gone after it like did on other occasions, most recently over the farmers’ protest.
Yet, this issue this time – housing and redevelopment of chawls and slums — really resonates in Mumbai — the Sena’s stronghold. Or is that the reason why the Sena has been careful? The party’s legislators even participated in a BJP-led boycott of the upper house over the issue, complaining that the opposition, which is in a majority in the legislative council, was not allowing them to speak.
The Sena’s Sanjay Raut, who’s a member of the Rajya Sabha and edits Saamana, said, “The Shiv Sena’s role is not to dance with the Opposition in the house. Until now, the Shiv Sena has been playing the role of an opposition, but now let us see what strength the real opposition has.”
Raut added that the Sena was waiting for chief minister Devendra Fadnavis to make clear his stand on the charges against Prakash Mehta.
Political observers speculate that the Shiv Sena is guarded as even its party man, minister of state for housing Ravindra Waikar, faced graft allegations last year.
The Congress had alleged that Waikar misused power to favour developers and implement six slum redevelopment projects.
The chief minister had then given him a clean chit.
Moreover, the opposition has accused state industries minister and Sena senior Subhash Desai too of irregularities in the denotification of an industrial plot in Nashik to favour a developer. Sena leaders have termed these allegations baseless, but this could explain their caution.
“The Shiv Sena could have cornered the Devendra Fadnavis government on the Mehta issue but it is unable to because the party’s members, some of whom are developers, have interests in slum redevelopment projects. The party perhaps fears that if one allegation is closely scrutinised, it may lead to more such cases coming out, “ said Prakash Bal, political commentator.
Political analyst Surendra Jondhale pointed out that with BJP leaders raising the issue of corruption in the Sena-run Mumbai civic body, the controversy surrounding Mehta was an opportune time for the Shiv Sena to counter attack.
“Shiv Sena’s meaningful political silence on this issue is very questionable. The party doesn’t want to be too vocal and say something that can politically boomerang,” he said.
Ever since it joined the BJP-led government, the Shiv Sena has constantly positioned itself as a watchdog, criticising and protesting against its own government on a range of issues -- farm loan waiver, Fadnavis’ pet Mumbai-Nagpur corridor, demonetisation and so on.
It has also joined the Opposition to target the government in the legislature a few times.
Senior Sena MLA Pratap Sarnaik said, “As a party, the Shiv Sena will not tolerate corruption. But having said that we are, at the end of the day, a part of the government. On the floor of the house, we will leave it to the Opposition.”