Miffed Sena to step out of BJP's shadow with welfare projects
The Shiv Sena, which joined forces with the BJP in the state government after sitting in the opposition for a month, is miffed at holding less-meaty portfolios, which have so far kept the party away from public attention.
Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray will launch a year-long development programme today to mark the party’s golden jubilee. File pic
In a bid to step out of BJP’s shadow and to connect with citizens, however, the Sena will now embark upon a year-long development programme that will run parallel to government schemes in the areas of water conservation, providing power and clean drinking water to villagers and e-education in Mumbai’s civic schools.
Barring public health, the Sena does not have departments that bring it into contact with the people. Besides forcing the party to take a backseat in the public eye, Sena ministers have also been complaining that they are not getting enough attention from the chief minister and other senior BJP ministers.
Junior ministers like Sanjay Rathod had come out in the open against their seniors Eknath Khadse in Rathod’s case over delegation of power. Another Sena minister Ramdas Kadam (in-charge of environment department) has been lamenting the lack of power and wants some say in the matters related to state environment clearances.
Kadam had challenged decisions taken by Union environment minister Prakash Javadekar. The party has now decided to mark its golden jubilee with a year-long welfare programme with several schemes that are uncannily similar to projects currently being undertaken by the government.
For instance, while CM Devendra Fadnavis is pursuing his pet water conservation project ‘Jalayukta Shivar’ in drought-affected parts of the state, the Sena too has come up with its own water conservation scheme ‘Shivjalakranti’ (water revolution). The CM’s project is funded by the state, while the Sena’s scheme will be financed by party and MLAs funds, as well as donations collected from patrons.
Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray will launch the scheme today in Khalapur in Raigad district. “We have decided to not splurge money on celebrations (to mark the 50th year of the Shiv Sena). Instead, we will spend at least R50 crore on developing the state,” Uddhav Thackeray told reporters on Tuesday evening.
He said the development schemes were decided by the party’s leaders, ministers and legislators. To begin with, Thackeray will launch a power scheme, ‘Shivprakash’, which will offer electricity to at least 200 of the 600 villages and hamlets in the state that are still in the dark. The scheme will begin with a project to connect Chauk, a tribal hamlet in Khalapaur of Raigad district with the state power network.
The most important of all the projects planned by the Sena is ‘Shivjalakranti’. A similar programme is being implemented by Fadnavis, who monitors his pet project on daily basis, banking on it to mitigate the effects of drought in Vidarbha, Marathwada and parts of western Maharashtra.
He will be visiting Latur, Osmanabad and Solapur districts to inspect the work done under this scheme today, co-incidentally just as Thackeray will launch the Sena programme. Sena had used drought mitigation as a poll plank as well, when the partners had fought the Assembly elections against each other in October last year.
Thackeray had toured drought-affected areas extensively before the polls and during the election campaign. ‘Shivjalakranti’ is said to be Thackeray’s idea, with which he wants to set a precedent in bettering farmers’ lives. He plans to target 400 villages in the state for this programme. Several businessmen and industrialists have donated the money for this scheme, Thackeray added.
At a cost of Rs 50 crore, the Shiv Sena will undertake:
>> Shivjalakranti - Water conservation in 400 villages in drought-affected areas
>> Shivprakash - Electricity connection to 200 villages, especially tribal habitats
>> Shuddh Peyajal - Clean drinking water for 200 villages
>> E-education - Tablets for 50,000 school students across the state. A similar scheme is already being implemented in BMC schools