Cases against Aarey activists to be withdrawn, announces Thackeray

Uddhav Thackeray
Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray who was sworn in on November 28 last year, has time till May 27 to get elected to the state legislature, failing which he will have to step down. Photo: PTI

Two days after putting on hold the construction of a metro car shed in Mumbai’s Aarey colony, Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray on Sunday (December 1) said he has ordered the withdrawal of cases filed against environmentalists who were booked during the protests against the axing of trees for the project.

“I have ordered to withdraw the cases filed against many environmentalist, during the agitation against the construction of the Aarey metro car shed,” he told reporters.

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Meanwhile, Governor BS Koshyari on Sunday told the assembly during a special session on Sunday that a law shall be enacted to ensure 80% reservation for “sons of the soil” in the private sector jobs.

Uddhav Thackeray, Koshyari
Governor BS Koshyari with Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray during a ceremonial procession before State Assembly session | PTI Photo’

Hindutva can never be separated from me: Uddhav

During the session, Thackeray asserted that he can never be separated from the ideology of Hindutva. This came as a stark contrast to the preamble of the ruling NCP-Congress-Shiv Sena combine that mentions the word “secular”.

The session also witnessed a fresh round of verbal war between the chief minister and his predecessor Devendra Fadnavis. Taking a swipe at Fadnavis, Thackeray said, “To keep a promise is also part of my Hindutva. I have been following my Hindutva yesterday, today and will do so in future as well.”

Also read | Thackeray stays construction of metro car shed in Mumbai’s Aarey

His barb came against the backdrop of Fadnavis rejecting his claim after the poll results that the BJP had promised them rotational chief ministership in new NDA government.

Fadnavis elected Opposition leader

Meanwhile, Fadnavis was on Sunday elected the Leaded of Opposition, following which, Thackeray said he won’t call Fadnavis an ‘opposition leader’, but a ‘responsible leader’. “If you would have been good to us then, all this (BJP-Shiv Sena split) would not have happened. I will not hesitate to admit that we have been good friends for a long time.”

Uddhav Thackeray
Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray arrives at Vidhan Bhavan for the Assembly session | PTI Photo

The Sena and the BJP had contested the October 21 elections as allies, but they fell out over Sena’s demand for splitting the top post for equal term with the BJP. The party then formed an alliance with the NCP and the Congress to form the ‘Maha Vikas Aghadi’ government.

Thackeray further taunted Fadnavis saying he was in the House though he never said “Me punha yein” (I will come back), an election slogan of the BJP leader who retorted that he will return as the chief minister and they only have to wait for some time.

Also read | BJP wanted excuse to run away during floor test, says NCP’s Nawab Malik

“I never said I will come back, but I came in this House,” the Shiv Sena chief said during his congratulatory speech, adding, “I can assure this House and people of Maharashtra that I will not do anything at midnight. I will be working for the interests of the people.”

Devendra Fadnavis
Former Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis arrives at Vidhan Bhavan | PTI Photo

Thackeray’s swipe was apparently about the early morning swearing-in of Fadnavis as chief minister on November 3, along with NCP leader Ajit Pawar as his deputy, after a night-long dramatic political developments in Mumbai and Delhi. However, Pawar later pulled out his support and resigned, and Fadnavis too quit within hours.

Responding to the barbs over his “Me punha yein” remarks, Fadnavis said he did say it but forgot to announce a time table of his return as chief minister. “I can assure you one thing, you need to wait for some time…I not only announced several projects in the last five years, but started work on them as well. You never know, I may come back to inaugurate them,” he said.

Appealing to the House to minimise farmers’ woes, Thackeray further said the aim of his government is not only to waive farmers’ loans but they also need to reduce their worries as well.”

(With inputs from agencies)

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