Uddhav Thackeray tests party mood at Sena shakhas

Thackeray, who has been on a tour of Shiv Sena shakhas since earlier this week, received shouts of support in response.

Written by Vishwas Waghmode | Mumbai | Published:October 20, 2016 12:32 am
Express News Service Mumbai, October 19 THE MAHARASHTRA government on Wednesday approved two major Metro projects —Thane-Bhiwandi-Kalyan Metro 5 and Swami Samarth (Lokhandwala)-Jogeshwari-Vikhroli-Kanjurmarg Metro 6 corridors, worth Rs 15,088 crore. Chief Minister Fadnavis said, “Maximum Mumbai is now completely on Metro network with all the projects which were planned given the consent and ready to roll. The total worth of  all the eight corridors in process in various stages, which will cover 172 kms across Mumbai, works out to Rs two lakh crore.” There are just two missing links. A feasibility study is underway and they would be soon incorporated in the Metro circuit, according to Fadnavis.  Thane-Bhiwandi-Kalyan Metro 5 which will be a 24-km stretch will have 17 stations. These include Kalyan station, APMC, Sahajanand Chowk, Durgadi Fort, Kon Goan, Gove Gaon, MIDC, Rajnouli Village, Temghar, Gopal Nagar, Bhiwandi, Dhamankar Naka, Anjur Phata, Purna, Kalher, Kasheli, Balkumbh Naka and Kapurbawdi. The 14.5 km Swami Samarth (Lokhandwala)-JVLR-Kanjurmarg Metro will have 13 stations, Lokhanwala Complex, Adarsh Nagar, Momin Nagar, JVLR, Shyam Nagar, Maha Kali caves, SEEPZ village, Saki Vihar Road, Ram Baug, Powai Lake, IIT Powai, Kanjurmarg (W), Vikhroli-Eastern Express Highway. While launching a special Metro logo designed by students of JJ School of Arts, the chief minister said, “Mumbai is now a ‘metro’ in the real sense of the term. Mumbaikars will find travel both comfortable and time saving.” The Metro network is expected to help ease congestion in local trains which are often overcrowded, specially during peak hours.  While reiterating that fast tracking of these projects will not be compromised, he said, “In the past it took eight years to go ahead with ten km of metro. Whereas, in two years we have set the process rolling for the entire 172 km.” Two other projects sanctioned at the meeting are, 500 wi-fi spots in Mumbai and widening of rail over bridge at Kopri. The government will set up 1200 wi-fi hot spots across Mumbai.  In the first project, the government has approved Rs 194 crore for 500 wi-fi hot spots, which will be identified by the Maharashtra Information and Technology Corporation. The Rs 259 crore project to widen the Rail Over Bridge at Kopri, Thane (East) is to decongest and streamline traffic. The existing two plus two lane bridge will give way to a new four plus four lane bridge with service roads.  According to MMRDA  commissioner UPS Madan,  “The projects are moving as per plan. We will have to acquire 15 hectares of land for each  of the three depots. The issues related to utilities and other aspects will have to be worked out.” mumbai.newsline@expressindia.com Shiv Sena President Uddhav Thackeray (File/Express Photo by Prashant Nadkar)

Setting the tone for his party ahead of what is set to be a keenly contested election to the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation early next year, Shiv Sena president Uddhav Thackeray told a crowd of about 300 party workers on Wednesday evening, “I want to see the saffron flag flutter, at any cost.”

Thackeray, who has been on a tour of Shiv Sena shakhas since earlier this week, received shouts of support in response.

At Shakha No 71, in Andheri East, Thackeray asked whether the ward delimitation exercise would prove to be good for the party. Legislator and Vibhag Pramukh Anil Parab explained to Thackeray how the ward had been split in the delimitation exercise, the areas deleted and those added to the existing ward boundaries. “So, is it good for us,” asked Thackeray. Parab nodded his head in the affirmative.

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Since Sunday, Uddhav has been visiting Sena shakhas as promised during his Dusshera rally speech. He has so far visited shakhas in Dahisar, Colaba and Worli. The party president is apparently gauging the mood of party workers ahead of the crucial decision on whether to form a pre-poll alliance with ally Bharatiya Janata Party, with whom Sainiks are currently locked in a war of words over allegations of corruption in the BMC. Shiv Sena’s shakha structure plays a key role in the party’s performance at polls, and is especially important ahead of civic elections. The city’s 227 Sena shakhas, one each for every corporator’s ward, are directly in touch with voters, with some shakha pramukhs considered more powerful than even elected corporators.

Incidentally, Thackeray’s cousin and Maharashtra Navnirman Sena chief Raj Thackeray is also holding discussions with party cadre ahead of the civic polls, preparing the ground.

At Shiv Sena Shakha No 71, Sainiks began to gather from 5 pm, though many came rushing after office hours, around 6 pm. More than 300 Sainiks including old-timers, youths and women were present.

As Thackeray arrived, there was a buzz of excitement and jostling to get photos clicked with him.

Acknowledging their enthusiasm, Thackeray stopped briefly to give the cadre a chance to click photographs and shake hands with him.

Thackeray signed the attendance register of the shakha and asked for a copy of the ward maps, existing and post-delimitation.

Besides Parab, Shiv Sena MP Gajanan Kirtikar, MLA Ramesh Latke and other Sena leaders were present. Thackeray met the deputy shakha pramukhs and other office bearers, and inquired briefly about voters’ registration and key issues in their areas. “Do good work. I want the saffron flag to flutter at any cost,” Thackeray told them. The crowd shouted in unison, “Ho (yes).”

“From December, there will be a lot of political activity. I cannot say much openly now, but you will get my instructions from time to time,” he added.

After a 10-minute visit, he left for the next shakha. To some workers unhappy at not having been able to personally meet their leader, local leaders promised a separate meeting with “saheb” later.

Vishwas.Waghmode@expressindia.com