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Shiv Sena (Thackeray) revives nativist roots to counter CM Shinde’s claim to party legacy

Party leader Aaditya Thackeray on Wednesday said the present government was economically isolating Maharashtra by taking away jobs from its ‘bhumiputras’.

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New Delhi: The Thackeray faction of the Shiv Sena has gone back to the party’s initial nativist politics in order to combat former colleague and present chief minister Eknath Shinde’s determined claim to founder Bal Thackeray’s ideology.

Shinde, who vertically split the Shiv Sena to oust Uddhav in June, has come under fire from the Thackeray camp for allegedly isolating Maharashtra’s economy by taking away jobs from the state’s “sons of the soil”.

Party leader and Uddhav Thackeray’s son Aaditya on Wednesday alleged the company that has won the contract to build the Bandra-Versova sea-link was hiring employees through walk-in interviews in Chennai despite the project being in Mumbai.

He said: “The opportunity should go to the native ‘bhumiputras’ because… what is the project? The Versova-Bandra sea-link. But where are the walk-in interviews? Ramada Plaza, Chennai.” Thackeray was addressing a press conference at Shiv Sena Bhavan, the party’s headquarters in Mumbai’s Dadar.

Thackeray touched upon the recent projects that Maharashtra has lost to Gujarat – the Vedanta-Foxconn semiconductor plant and the Bulk Drug Park. He said the semiconductor project would have got Maharashtra Rs one lakh crore while the drug park would have generated 70,000 to 80,000 jobs. “The issue about just one project (the Versova-Bandra sea-link) is very simple. But, it is important because it concerns a department which has been directly under the current chief minister for the last seven years,” Thackeray added.

The sea-link project, the construction of which is yet to begin, is being implemented by the Maharashtra State Road Development Corporation (MSRDC), which is overseen by Shinde. Even as a minister in the previous Maha Vikas Aghadi government that he brought down, Shinde headed the MSRDC.

An MSRDC official said, “Hiring manpower for the (sea-link) project is the company’s direct responsibility as per the contract… we do not have any say in it. But, we have sought information from the company on this issue.”

Also read: Vedanta-Foxconn was ready to sign deal but minister busy with politics, says Aaditya Thackeray

“Stop Maharashtra’s economic isolation”

Aaditya Thackeray, the former guardian minister for suburban Mumbai, said he had no problem with bringing manpower from outside Maharashtra if it was specialised talent.

But, in this case, he said, the job advertisements were for posts such as project manager, planning professional, and for those adept at marine piling, signalling, marine structure, marine fabrication, plant and machinery, marine logistics and so on.

“What is the mandatory qualification for these jobs? BTech, BE, diploma (civil) — in short civil engineering. This degree is available aplenty among Maharashtra’s population. Whether it is a coastal road or any other project, our engineers are doing good work,” the 32-year-old MLA from Worli said.

“Today, for this job interview, there is no opportunity in Maharashtra. If it was a project over there (in Chennai) and the interviews had been here (in Mumbai), the sons of the soil and political leaders over there too would have asked why the interviews were not happening in Chennai,” Thackeray said. He asked if the state government would fund anyone who wanted to travel to Chennai for the interview.

Thackeray also clarified he would have had no problem if the job interviews were being held across the country, including in Maharashtra’s cities.

“But, at some point, this economic isolation of Maharashtra needs to stop,” he added.

Shiv Sena’s ‘sons of the soil’ agenda

The Shiv Sena’s birth in Mumbai in 1966 was with a ‘sons of the soil’ slogan when party founder Bal Thackeray galvanised the city’s youth against well-paying jobs allegedly going to migrants.

Over the years, the party adopted a broader Hindutva agenda to increase its appeal across and beyond the state. In the last two decades, as Mumbai’s demography underwent a rapid change, the Shiv Sena blunted its anti-migrant diatribe and extended its campaigning to Gujaratis and North Indians too.

Critics of Uddhav and Aaditya Thackeray-led Shiv Sena have alleged the father-son duo diluted the party’s ideology by shedding its aggression and putting on a more liberal face.

This has been one of the foremost allegations of the Eknath Shinde-led Shiv Sena faction, which claims the founder party has forgotten Bal Thackeray’s teachings.

Also read: Maha govt to invite fresh bids for Dharavi redevelopment project


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