Strongly advocating the cause of Mumbai, Shiv Sena chief Bal Thackeray has reiterated his demand for the centre to plough back a portion of the huge revenue collected from the city for its progress and development
In an editorial in the party's mouthpiece 'Saamna' Monday, Bal Thackeray alleged that the commercial capital had been exploited by some Congress politicians to make deals with the party's central leadership and remain in power by sending 'bags' (of cash).
"Persons like S.K. Patil, Rajni Patel, Murli Deora and today's Kripashankar Singh developed this habit (of sending 'bags') to the central leaders, which in turn appointed 'collection agents' to loot Mumbai," Thackeray said.
Even Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief and Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar had worked in this capacity (as a collection agent) and never made any attempt to stop the practice, he said.
Thackeray's comments came in response to what he termed "Pawar suddenly oozing love and concern for Mumbai" at a seminar in the city last Saturday.
At the seminar, Pawar had criticized Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan and the central and state governments for continuously ignoring Mumbai and its labourers and mill-workers.
Thackeray sarcastically pointed out that in the last Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) elections, despite tying-up with the Congress, the NCP managed to win a paltry 14 seats (from total 227 in BMC), while the Shiv Sena-Bharatiya Janata Party-Republican Party of India triumvirate triumphed.
"There is no election scheduled in the near future, then why is Pawar so much worried about Mumbai's plight. His concern for the city is by itself surprising," Thackeray noted.
It may be recalled that prior to the BMC elections, Chavan had casually commented that the Shiv Sena would cease to exist after the February 2012 civic polls to what is considered Asia's biggest and richest municipality.
This is believed to have triggered a surge of mass support which ensured the saffron triumvirate's victory in the civic polls.
Pawar had reportedly taken up the issue (of Chavan's comment) with the party leadership and the NCP contended that it led to their loss in the elections.
In the past few weeks, Pawar had also criticized state Governor K. Sankaranarayanan - and the centre responded by rewarding him with a second term in Maharashtra, Thackeray said.
Thackeray pointed out in the editorial that had it not been for Shiv Sena, the Congress would have separated Mumbai from Maharashtra long ago and outsiders would have exploited it for their interests.
He reiterated his old demand that the entry of all outsiders should be strictly regulated to Mumbai if it has to develop, progress and prosper.