The Aarey tree felling controversy is threatening to follow Aaditya Thackeray to faraway Worli, from where the Shiv Sena scion, breaking with the Thackeray dynasty tradition, is contesting the Assembly election.
Opposition candidates in the constituency say that they will be taking up Thackeray’s failure to prevent the tree cutting for a Metro rake depot in Aarey despite professing to be against it, and despite the Sena’s partnership with the BJP in the government, as well as ruling the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC).
Suresh Mane, former head of the law department at Mumbai University and candidate of the Congress-NCP-led alliance in Worli, said that he would take up the Aarey issue during campaigning in Worli to expose what he called Sena’s “double standards” on the issue.
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“We will tell the people how they have been deceived by Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray and Aaditya on Aarey issue despite their promise of not allowing tree cutting in Aarey. Also, we will highlight that it was Sena’s failure that permission to cut trees was granted by Sena-controlled BMC,” said Mane, founder and national president of the Bahujan Republican Socialist Party (BRSP), who is contesting on NCP symbol.
Mane further said that since the Sena is in an alliance with BJP in government, it could have postponed the tree cutting. “We will also raise the issue of flooding in city. Destroying the forest cover will lead to damaging the floodplains of Mithi river and flooding in the city,” added Mane.
Gautam Gaikwad, Vanchit Bahujan Aghadi’s candidate, said that the issue would be certainly taken up during campaigning. “We are chalking out a strategy on how to take up this issue,” said Gaikwad, adding that VBA chief Prakash Ambedkar has already raised his voice against Aarey.
Abhijeet Bichukale, who featured on Big Boss Marathi season 2 and is fighting the polls as an independent from Worli, said, “If Aaditya is not able to save the trees in Aarey, then what is he going to do in Worli? Sena is in power and should have stopped the tree cutting. The Sena’s opposition in BMC, filing case in court and then protesting at Aarey was all drama.”
On Sunday morning, members of Democratic Youth Federation of India (DYFI), youth wing of CPI (M), staged protest at Jijamata Nagar in Worli during Aaditya’s roadshow. “We were protesting demanding the release of the students who were arrested during the protest at Aarey,” said Pravin Manjalkar, member of Mumbai District Committee of DYFI.
Sena leaders say they will explain the factual position to the people on Aarey.
“NCP has no moral right to say anything on Aarey issue. They voted in favour of tree cutting proposal in BMC. VBA chief first should spend sometime to understand the issue,” said Sena’s Sachin Ahir, adding that DYFI members were not protesting but were just waiting to meet Aaditya, who met them.
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