Sena playing politics of heritage in fear of losing Marathi voters

Sep 07, 2012, 06:58 IST | Varun Singh

At a public meeting yesterday, Uddhav Thackeray charged the government of trying to drive Marathis away from the Mumbai by proposing heritage status for areas like Shivaji Park

“Marathis are being attacked in Mumbai. There’s a motive behind the heritage issue. All this seems planned to drive away Marathis from Mumbai and create a specific vote bank of minorities.” This warning was sounded by Shiv Sena’s executive president Uddhav Thackeray yesterday while addressing a meeting of ‘heritage-stricken’ people of Shivaji Park area.

Uddhav Thackeray
On the attack: Shiv Sena Executive president Uddhav Thackeray took a dig at Digvijay Singh during the public meeting at Shivaji Park. Thackeray said that at a time when all supported Hindu rulers, Singh’s family aided the Mughal kings.

For the past week Uddhav and his party have been criticising the move of the state government of including Shivaji Park in a proposed heritage list. The Sena executive president had even met the chief minister over this, but he didn’t seem satisfied with the outcome.

The audience sit in rapt attention listening to Thackeray’s speech about the much-debated heritage list. Pics/Rajesh Waradkar

“I have already scrapped the heritage proposal. I don’t care whether or not the government follows suit. Shiv Sena won’t let anything happen in this area (Shivaji Park). For how long will Marathi manoos stay in areas that are not livable and till when would skyscrapers be erected over the dreams of the common man?” asked Uddhav.

By the book
He even took a dig at Digvijay Singh. The Congress MP had earlier claimed that a book written by Prabodhankar Thackeray, father of Shiv Sena founder Bal Thackeray, mentions the Thackeray clan migrated from Magadh (a place in Bihar) to Bhopal and other places including Mumbai. Yesterday, Uddhav produced a book named ‘Survey of Khichii History’ and narrated few paragraphs, claiming Digvijay’s family supported the Mughals when everyone else was aiding the Hindu kings.

“Digvijay is doing what his ancestors have been doing for years. Even during the freedom struggle his family sided with the British. And now, he’s supporting an Italian,” Uddhav proclaimed.

Uddhav also alleged the government was targeting the majority population. “By putting time restrictions on Ganesh festival, what is the government trying to prove? We know our limits and never cross them,” he said.

Sticking to the party’s anti-Pak artiste stance, he said, “We haven’t changed our views on the issue.”

Write to the point
However, going against the usual Sena style, Uddhav and his party men have decided to write letters to tackle the heritage issue. “The format in which the letters against the proposal have to be submitted to the government to get rid of the heritage tag would be circulated, and we will all send letters to the government,” he said.

The fear of losing the Marathi vote bank was dominant during the whole meeting, with not only Uddhav but also all top leaders were talking on the point, claiming the heritage tag was being used to drive away Marathis from Mumbai.

Meanwhile, mayor Sunil Prabhu assured he would call a special meeting in BMC and see to it that the heritage proposal doesn’t go ahead without everyone’s consent.  

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