A WEEK after several trees were felled in Mumbai’s Aarey Colony to make way for a Metro car shed, Union Minister of Textiles Smriti Irani on Friday came out in support of the Devendra Fadnavis government, maintaining that while “Mumbai is on the path of development”, it’s BJP’s priority to ensure that development and environmental responsibilities are balanced equally.
Addressing mediapersons at the BJP office in Mumbai, Irani said, “I have known Devendra Fadnavis as a visionary leader and have served with him within the organisation. I wish to say that it’s the utmost priority of the BJP to ensure that developmental and environmental responsibilities are balanced equally.”
“Knowing that Mr Fadnavis has engaged in the kind of consultation through government bodies and that it included not only bureaucracy but also civil society, I feel Mumbai is on the path of development… at the same time keeping in mind the concern of the residents,” she added.
The Union minister said that opposition from the Shiv Sena on the car shed project was not a cause for concern for the BJP. “The two parties (BJP and Shiv Sena) are part of a political entity together. Fundamentally on the issue of development of Maharashtra and fundamentally on the issue of national security, we have always been together and will do so in the years to come,” Irani added.
She also stressed the importance of social media in the state elections, labelling it a “proactive platform” where residents can engage. “The biggest advantage of social media is that it does not wait for the involvement of any political party… It is a proactive platform where citizens come together and make decisions and choices based on what information they gather. It is also a great platform everyone to know the work the party is doing, engage with leaders and is a very important tool today,” she added.
Taking a dig at the Opposition, Irani claimed that Mumbai, under BJP rule, has become a safer and more secure place and was also “free” of corruption. “There was a time when the residents of Mumbai had gotten used to bomb blasts and there was widespread corruption. Today, after five years of Devendra Fadnavis government, we have a city free of fear, corruption and one that is also safer for women.”
Irani also attacked Rahul Gandhi, stating that the former Congress president will have to answer key questions while campaigning in the state. “I think Rahul Gandhi owes it to the people of Maharashtra and India to tell them why a leader from the Congress party was standing by the side of a UK party leader in the wake of the latter’s comments on Kashmir and discussing issues pertaining to India.”
The BJP has taken strong exception to a tweet by British Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn that he met representatives of the Congress’ UK unit and discussed the “human rights situation” in Jammu and Kashmir. Corbyn had posted a picture of himself with Kamal Dhaliwal, who heads the Indian Overseas Congress in the UK, on social media.
“The Congress had accused the BJP of following a divide and rule policy and got the answer in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. They shall get an answer regarding their criticism of the Kashmir decision in the state elections,” Irani said.