Caught between his old and new allies, Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray on Tuesday announced that his government had decided to earmark dedicated funds for conservation and beautification of old temples.
“My government will work for preservation of the cultural heritage and richness of the temples,” he said, while taking a veiled dig at his former ally, the Bharatiya Janata Party, for stooping low in politics.
“This will tell you that we have not left Hindutva,” he said. Eyeing Shiv Sena’s hardline Hindutva votes in the upcoming polls to urban local bodies including Mumbai, the BJP has been specifically targeting the CM for “compromising” on his Hindutva credentials for the “sake of power.”
Thackeray made the announcement while replying to a discussion on supplementary grants raised by the ruling coalition on the final day of the Winter Session of the Legislative Assembly, which saw the ruling coalition and the BJP trade political blows over the Maratha quota stir, the farm bills and the Aarey Metro car shed fiasco among other things.
Replying to the discussion, Thackeray reiterated his accusation that investigation agencies like the Enforcement Directorate and the Central Bureau of Investigation were being treated like domestic servants by the BJP, labelling it as “vikrut” politics. Referring to the ongoing ED probe against his party member Pratap Sarnaik and his kin, Thackeray said, “We won’t tolerate if someone just comes and nudges us on the head.”
Earlier in the discussion, Leader of Opposition (Assembly) Devendra Fadnavis had lashed out at the Thackeray-led coalition accusing it of excess of law and misuse of power while questioning the government’s action in the arrest of Republic TV editor Arnab Goswami, razing of portions of actor Kangana Ranaut’s bungalow, and the arrest of right-wing activists for posting “critical” remarks against the government on social media.
“This is misuse of power,” Fadnavis said. While Thackeray did not respond to these allegations, his close-aide and state’s Parliamentary Affairs Minister Anil Parab was locked in a verbal duel with the former CM on these issues. The duo also exchanged barbs over the decision to shift the Aarey car shed to Kanjurmarg, which is also being heard in the Bombay High Court. On Monday the court had asked the government to withdraw an order of the Mumbai suburban collector regarding the allotment of the Kanjurmarg land to the MMRDA for the car shed.
Accusing “certain elements” of trying to wedge a divide between communities, the CM, meanwhile, made it clear that the reservation extended to the OBC communities won’t be touched by extending various benefits to the Marathas.
Fadnavis and Maharashtra BJP chief Chandrakant Patil had earlier in the day accused the government of wedging a divide between the communities. Alleging that there was rampant corruption in Covid-19 procurement, Fadnavis had earlier also hit out at the lack of coordination and communication between ruling allies.
Meanwhile, Finance Minister Ajit Pawar and his predecessor to the post, Sudhir Mungantiwar, argued over GST compensation amounts and other dues that the Centre owes the state. Pawar said that the Centre now owes the state Rs 30,538 crore in GST compensation, while Mungantiwar targeted the government over misplaced fiscal priorities. The latter also questioned the government’s move to supply a portion of the one-time grant extended to tribal families in kind.
Pawar, meanwhile, accused the BJP of “political desperation” in the wake of the recent defeat in the MLC polls. Public Works Minister Ashok Chavan and Fadnavis, meanwhile, traded blows over the Maratha reservation issue. The latter also accused the government of double speak over the farm bill protests, contending that Maharashtra was the first to introduce the provision during the Congress-NCP rule itself.
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