January 26, 2021 3:24:28 am
While the Shiv Sena has been vocal through its party mouthpiece Saamana in its criticism of the BJP government’s farm laws, the party was conspicuous for the absence of its prominent leaders at Monday’s farmers’ protest at Azad Maidan.
Its allies NCP and Congress came out in support of the protest. While NCP chief Sharad Pawar addressed the farmers, Congress was represented by its state president Balasaheb Thorat.
Sena, however, chose to send Rahul Londhe, a journalist-turned Yuva Sena functionary as its representative.
Sources said that a delegation of farmers’ leaders had met Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray, who had advised them to organise farmers in groups at various locations and address them through video conferencing.
Thackeray had also assured the delegation that his son and Minister Aaditya Thackeray, who had walked with the farmers during their protest in March 2018, would come to Azad Maidan to extend support.
While the organisers of the protest said that they were hopeful till Monday that Aaditya would attend, he seemed to have wriggled out by citing his busy schedule.
Aaditya was in Thane on Monday to attend the inauguration of a bridge and other projects.
Speaking to mediapersons on the sidelines of the event, Aaditya said: “Instead of seeing who went (to Azad maidan), I think one should look at if the Centre has taken cognizance (of the agitation). From the Maha Vikas Aghadi, Pawar saheb is leading it and the chief minister is speaking (with them). Shiv Sena is fully supporting the farmers. But the important thing is that the Centre has not taken cognizance of the protesting farmers even after 60 days (of protest).”
The Sena also claimed that the decision of not sending a senior leader was a way to avoid large gatherings during the times of Covid-19 pandemic. Sources said that the CM was not in favour of having a bigger gathering due to the pandemic in Mumbai.
“While the chief minister has been appealing to people not to organise big gatherings, it would not have looked good to attend the Azad Maidan rally against his appeal. This was the only issue we had. Sena has been voicing its stand through its party mouthpiece and the party chief has also spoken on it,” said a senior party leader.
However, in the past, too, the Sena has not taken a clear stand on the three farms laws apart from voicing their support to farmers through statements and editorials in Saamana.
When the farm Bills were tabled in the Parliament, Sena MPs had supported the Bills in Lok Sabha and staged a walkout in Rajya Sabha.
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