In a veiled swipe at Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray, Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis on Saturday said the current chief minister does not sit at home but tours the state and meets people.
He also said the alliance of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Shiv Sena led by Chief Minister Eknath Shinde will win the upcoming Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation polls.
Thackeray was often accused by the BJP of not stepping out of Mumbai during his tenure as the chief minister (November 2019- June 2022) and mostly using his residence for meetings.
Fadnavis said MLA Ashish Shelar was asked to take up the post of Mumbai BJP to ensure victory in the BMC polls and exuded confidence the latter will win the “match”.
“When the BMC polls took place last time with Shelar was Mumbai BJP president, the party won 82 seats (in the 227-member civic body in 2017). We were ready to install our mayor but took two steps back for our ally (Shiv Sena) and allowed them to have their mayor. This time the mayor will be from the BJP-Sena alliance,” the Deputy CM said told a ‘karyakarta melava’ (party worker’s convention) here.
He went on to underline that the real Shiv Sena, which was following the ideology of its late founder Bal Thackeray, was the one led by CM Shinde.
Fadnavis said the previous BJP-led government (between 2014 and 2019) began investing Rs 3 lakh crore in the metropolis and surrounding areas through the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) and this was possible due to the strong leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Accusing the previous Maha Vikas Aghadi government of not doing anything to take the Dharavi redevelopment project forward, Fadnavis said the new dispensation under Shinde will remove all hurdles in the next three months and realise the dream of giving residents of one of the densest urban sprawls in the world their rightful homes.
“Corruption has gripped the BMC. Of late, Kiritji (former MP Kirit Somaiya) and others have exposed several irregularities. We have seen how the money of citizens has reached the vaults of some people. Every year, we see potholed roads, water-logging, and civic projects continue to linger for years,” he alleged.
“These are not projects but milch cows for some people to have ‘malai’ (clotted cream, but used to signify bribes, kickbacks, a commission in political parlance). During COVID, they (those ruling BMC) were not concerned about people but how they could get benefited. Every day, new firms used to be formed, which would decide what needs to be purchased and bag a civic order,” the senior BJP leader further alleged.
Fadnavis said it was the responsibility of the alliance to ensure the dream of Bal Thackeray for Mumbai is realised, as those who came to power taking the latter’s name turned “self-centric” and crushed that dream by ignoring the common Mumbaikar.
He said in the run-up to the civic polls, certain segments will raise “emotional” issues and claim that there was a ploy to separate Mumbai from Maharashtra.
“I request them to at least change the dialogue. For how long will you survive on that same dialogue,” Fadnavis said in an apparent swipe at the Uddhav Thackeray-led faction of the Sena.
“The other dialogue they say is ‘Mumbai will not bow down before Delhi’. Mumbai is the financial capital and Delhi is the political capital. When any CM from Maharashtra goes to Delhi, they will say he is bowing to ‘Delhishwars’,” he said.
Delhi is the capital of the country and one has to go there, or else how would state projects be completed, Fadnavis questioned.
Without naming Uddhav Thackeray, the BJP leader said “you went to Delhi, not in the interest of Maharashtra but to bow before Congress president Sonia Gandhi”.
“I would like to say, yes, Mumbai will not bow down before Delhi but in the interest of Mumbaikars, if the CM and I have to go to Delhi many times, we will go,” Fadnavis added.
He said Janmashtami was celebrated with full pomp and fervour on Friday and assured that under the Eknath Shinde dispensation, festivals like Ganeshotsav, Navratri, Shiv Jayanti, Ambedkar Jayanti etc will be celebrated across the state with similar gusto.
“Now, the CM will not sit at home and nor will he allow you to remain at home,” he said, taking a jibe at Uddhav Thackeray.