Extending support to the anganwadi workers who have been on strike, Shiv Sena president Uddhav Thackeray Wednesday urged them to continue with the strike, stating that it was “now or never”. With its senior ministers and leaders in attendance at the protest venue on Wednesday, the Sena, the BJP’s warring ally, threw its weight behind the workers protesting against the Devendra Fadnavis government.
“The government is attempting to break the anganwadi workers’ strike. If the government is using force to end the strike, we will not allow it and oppose it strongly,” said Thackeray while addressing the protest rally of anganwadi workers at Azad Maidan on Wednesday.
He further urged the anganwadi workers not to give up and keep fighting as the Sena would continue to support them. “The anganwadi workers are taking care of lakhs of children and are their true mothers. So, you should get good honorarium for it,” said Uddhav. Besides, health minister Deepak Sawant, Minister of State for Housing Ravindra Waikar, Sena MPs Anil Desai and Arvind Sawant, Sena leaders Anil Parab, Neelam Gorhe were also present for the protest that saw the participation of thousands of anganwadi workers.
The anganwadi workers have been on indefinite strike since September 11, seeking hike in honorarium and over a new scheme in place of Take Home Ration. There are 2,06,000 anganwadi workers in the state’s 97,000 anganwadis, operating schemes such as supplementary nutrition and health services for children, and daycare for pre-primary school children.
“The government is trying to break your unity to end the strike. But the anganwadi workers and ASHA workers are the sisters and should not allow such division. We should maintain the unity for our demands. If not now, it will never happen,” Thackeray said.
Thackeray also criticised the BJP on several issues from election promises to development. “The BJP remembers Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj only during the election campaigning because it has understood that it won’t get any votes without his name. But it forgets that Shivaji respected women and cared a lot for them,” he said. He added that while there has been rise in several prices such as petrol, diesel, there is no increase in anganwadi workers’ honorarium.
However, the Maharashtra Anganwadi Workers’ Action Committee said the government should come out with respectable offer to resolve the strike. “We will not withdraw the strike on a rise of a few hundred rupees, the rise should be around Rs 10,000. We are not adamant on it and ready to negotiate on that,” said Shubha Shamim of the committee.
MA Patil of the committee said that anganwadi workers will launch a “jail bharo” at the district level across the state next week. “We will wait for some time. If the issue is not resolved, then we will organise the jail bharo andolan next week in all districts on the same day,” said Patil.