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Home > Mumbai > Mumbai News > Article > Exclusive Lok Sabha elections 2024 BJP not MVA slowed down pace of development in state says Aaditya Thackeray

Exclusive | Lok Sabha elections 2024: BJP, not MVA, slowed down pace of development in state, says Aaditya Thackeray

Updated on: 15 May,2024 07:15 AM IST  |  Mumbai
Ranjeet Jadhav |

In a freewheeling conversation with mid-day, Thackeray Jr speaks his mind on agrarian crisis, environment, development and the fate of his faction

Exclusive | Lok Sabha elections 2024: BJP, not MVA, slowed down pace of development in state, says Aaditya Thackeray

Shiv Sena (UBT) leader Aaditya Thackeray interacts with mid-day in his car on May 13. Pics/Rane Ashish

As election fever grips the country, Shiv Sena (UBT) leader Aaditya Thackeray on Monday indirectly slammed Prime Minister Narendra Modi for referring to his father, party chief Uddhav Thackeray, as nakli santaan [fake child], terming this an insult to his grandparents. Speaking to mid-day, he exuded confidence about the Maha Vikas Aghadi and INDIA bloc coming to power in the state and at the Centre respectively. Aaditya opened up to mid-day about several issues from the agrarian crisis to climate change. He also made it clear that those who left his party to side with Chief Minister Eknath Shinde’s faction would not be taken back.


What has the response been while you were touring Maharashtra?
The response has been very good. I think it will translate to very strong numbers for the Maha Vikas Aghadi. The people are very annoyed with the agrarian crisis that has been created due to the apathy of the Central government. Unemployment is a big issue and the youth of Maharashtra are furious about employment opportunities going to Gujarat.

Following the split in the Shiv Sena, the Opposition has alleged it was due to ‘putra prem’. What’s your take on this?
Losing the cricket World Cup is due to putra prem too [a reference to BCCI Secretary Jay Shah, son of Union Home Minister Amit Shah]. But more than that, what they are trying to do is divert us from the main topic. For the past 10 years, the BJP has only made promises and not delivered. Today when they know that people are asking them questions, they are diverting attention to these issues. I think what is relevant is to drag the BJP back to the main focal point, which is jobs, unemployment, inflation and agrarian distress. Talk about the work you have done, don’t talk about us.
How many seats will the MVA secure in Maharashtra? How many do you anticipate the Sena (UBT) will win in Maharashtra and Mumbai?
All of us in MVA will win the most seats and you will see an INDIA government in Delhi on June 4.
What is your assessment of the BJP’s performance during its 10-year tenure at the Centre?
I think they would get 10 on 10 for lying but almost nil for delivery. Be it in 2012 or 2017, we highlighted our work with photos via our hoardings. The BJP’s hoardings only have their leaders’ photos.

What feedback have you been receiving while engaging with citizens across the state?
In rural Maharashtra, farmers are facing a huge amount of stress due to agrarian crisis. Farmer suicides are on the rise. The cost of fertilisers is increasing but cultivators are not getting good rates for their crops. Farmers don’t have any hope from leaders in power. The loan waiver and help given to the farmers when Uddhav Saheb was the chief minister was reaching farmers on time, but for the past 2.5 years, they are not even aware who the Union or state agriculture ministers are. The farmers have not seen this government work for them. Even in agriculture, the Government of India is pitting Maharashtra against Gujarat. The Centre lifted the ban on onion export two weeks ago in Gujarat but it took them two weeks to do the same in Maharashtra.
What is your view on the Marathi-versus-Gujarati issue?
It’s really unfortunate. In the past 10 years, the BJP has been spreading hatred between the two communities. During the MVA tenure, no person had the guts to spread hatred among communities and religions. But in two and a half years, many businesses have unfortunately gone to Gujarat. It’s unfortunate to see Marathi people being denied entry to certain places or not allowed to buy or rent houses in some housing societies. The BJP is responsible as this started ten years ago when the international financial centre plan from Mumbai was shifted to GIFT City in Gujarat.
The matter of the dumping ground in the eastern suburbs is a burning issue in the Mumbai North seat. How does your party plan to address this concern?
While the issue is largely a local one, our MPs will raise it at the Centre in order to get funds and technology. We closed the dumping ground in Gorai and built a park on it. We are taking the help of the latest technology to sort garbage. Apart from the dumping ground issue, people staying on the east coast and in the Bombay Port Trust (BPT) area are getting eviction notices but they are not being informed about their resettlement and rehabilitation. We need MPs who will highlight the issues of our city in Parliament but if BJP MPs from Mumbai get elected, they would say yes to whatever the BJP says. While all governments were of the opinion that slum rehabilitation should be done at the same place, Piyush Goyal [BJP’s Mumbai North candidate] wants all of Mumbai’s slum dwellers to be rehabilitated on salt pan land in Vasai-Virar.
There is a lot of controversy surrounding the Dharavi redevelopment project. If INDIA comes to power at the Centre. Will it be cancelled?
We all are of the opinion that the development of Dharavi should happen and locals staying there also agree because they too want good houses and better infrastructure and facilities. But residents are opposed to the kind of redevelopment that has been proposed because the incentives that are being given to the private developer are over the top.

It is being said that when your government was in power, it slowed down all infra work, including Metro lines, delaying all timelines. What do you have to say about this?
The people who are saying this are liars and outliers because they haven’t seen how the MVA was working. They work in a BJP ecosystem and so they are liars. If you check, we [MVA] completed the work of two Metro lines in Mumbai. The BJP government lied to people about the Metro 3 project, alleging that we had delayed it. They made the Metro 3 car shed in Aarey, which we had stayed, The Metro 3 is yet to be operational despite the fact that there has been a BJP-supported government in Maharashtra for the last two and half years. The Coastal Road, which was going to be completed in 2023, also got delayed because of this government. The Worli-Sewri elevated connector was expected to be completed by November 2023 but it also got delayed. The Mumbai Trans Harbour Link was expected to be opened in October 2023 but it was also delayed. The MSRDC department is with Eknath Shinde. Had the MVA government been in power, we would have made sure that projects like the Coastal Road and Nariman Point-Cuffe Parade connector would have been completed on time because we used to have weekly reviews and monthly visits. The BJP even cancelled the Pune airport project. I would say that the BJP has slowed down Mumbai’s projects and those who are targeting us online are nothing but their paid trolls.
Climate change has emerged as a global concern. Despite its significance, do you believe that leaders often overlook it as a topic of discussion during elections?
It’s true that no one is talking much about climate change. For the past 10 years, the BJP has failed to complete the construction of the Mumbai-Goa highway for which the contract had been given to the contractors associated with BJP ministers. Is BJP really doing development or destruction because it’s making tunnels at some locations where they are not needed. At Vetal Tekdi in Pune a flyover, Metro and tunnel are being constructed. No one is talking about the serious issue of land subsidence at Joshimath in Uttarakhand.We need to have sustainable development and maintain a balance. The focus should be looking at the future of our citizens, not contractors. The BJP thinks about the future of contractors and electoral bonds.
What have you done to address symbol confusion among voters in interior Maharashtra?
The BJP, which claims to be the biggest political party in the world, had to split the Shiv Sena and NCP. They divided the Pawar family and even took one Thackeray to their side but still they are unable to gain the support of the people. Now they are trying to create confusion among the people between the mashal and dhanushyaban. In some places, independent candidates who have names similar to those of our candidates are being fielded to create confusion among the voters. In order to reach our voters, we have started organising mashal morchas. The mashal is being used as our display pictures on WhatsApp and social media. Our party workers are also doing door-to-door campaigning and telling people about our symbol.
What is your response to Shinde Sena candidate Ravindra Waikar’s grouse that not enough was done to shield him from false allegations?
I think these people are shameless. For twenty years, you [Waikar] did whatever you wanted in the name of the party. The BJP had levelled allegations about a construction. Later the Shinde group threatened you and even the ED did the same so you switched sides. For personal reasons, you want Maharashtra to bow down before Delhi. And you wanted us to make a call to Delhi. We don’t want people who bow down in front of Delhi because if people elect you, you won’t be able to raise the voice of Mumbaikars in Parliament. We are proud of people like Arvind Kejriwal-ji, Sanjay Singh, Sanjay Raut, Anil Deshmukh and our Suraj Chavan who preferred going to jail and fighting for the truth rather than caving into pressure from Delhi. People who have done something wrong are scared and so they succumb to pressure and join them [BJP].
What is your response to the PM’s call to Sharad Pawar and Uddhav Thackeray to join the NDA after the poll and not go with Congress?
In the past two weeks, we have seen the BJP flip-flop on many issues. You [Modi] come to Maharashtra and call Sharad Pawar Sahab a bhatakti atma [wandering soul], you call my father nakli santaan [fake son], which is not only insulting him but also my grandfather and grandmother who has saved you in your toughest times. You call my father nakai santaan for your own politics and then after you realise that BJP won’t be able to win and without Uddhav Thackeray’s support, the government cannot be formed, you try to make up for the insults. As long as the BJP remains the party that finishes off its friends, the country, the Constitution and democracy, we cannot go with it.
What is the future of both factions after the polls? Will you take them back if they are willing to return?
Not at all! We had taken back many people earlier. There are many who go back to their original parties, and this happens in a democracy. But what these people tried to do was finish us off as a family, finish off Shiv Sena and, more importantly, they are finishing off my Maharashtra. They are seeking to diminish the importance of my Mumbai and make it bow down to Delhi. We cannot take such darpoks [cowards] and dirty characters back.

No of city seats being contested by Sena (UBT)

With inputs from Rajendra Aklekar

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