Shiv Sena's welfare schemes come with religious tag

Thackeray and Fadnavis launch schemes on Thackeray’s birth anniversary with names that carry saffron reference; Congress says it’s unconstitutional

Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray and Maharashtra CM Devendra Fadnavis on Saturday launched eight public welfare schemes to mark Bal Thackeray’s birth anniversary. The event, conducted by the state transport department, was led by Sena minister Diwakar Raote at the Mumbai Central Depot of the Maharashtra State Road Transport Corporation (MSRTC).

CONDITIONS APPLY: The friendship between Sena Chief Uddhav Thackeray and CM Devendra Fadnavis is directly proportional to the benefits the partnership promises to reap

Names of some of the schemes did not go down well with the opposition Congress party as five schemes out of eight had names that carried phrases with religious reference, including ‘Hinduhridaysamrat’ (the emperor of Hindu hearts), a term that also precedes late Thackeray’s name.

Reacting sharply, the Congress lodged a strong objection, saying that the practice of giving welfare schemes a religious tone was in violation of the Constitution and that it set a poor precedence in the democratic system. “The Congress will move the court if the government does not withdraw the names. We don’t object to naming the schemes after Thackeray, but we pity the Sena’s poor effort at using his name for reaching out to the masses in an absolute illegal manner,” said Congress spokesperson Sachin Sawant.

Uddhav remarked at the Congress’ objection saying he wondered why “some people were upset with schemes being named after his late father”. Fadnavis skipped the point in his speech.
The CM’s studied silence is seen as an act of no interference in controversial decisions taken by the Sena leadership. The BJP thinks that the Sena should face embarrassment in case the court decides against nomenclature of the Sena schemes.

The schemes under the name of Hinduhridaysamrat Shivsenapramukh Balasaheb Thackeray included Kanyadan Yojana (a grant of R1 lakh for an MSRTC employee’s daughter’s marriage); accident relief (increasing accident insurance grant up to R10 lakh for passengers travelling on MSRTC buses); self-sustenance schemes for farmers' widows, an announcement of an automobile engineering college. Other initiatives include Shivshahi bus service (with 500 new AC buses) and five per cent quota for women in allotment of autorickshaw permits.

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