Mumbai: Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray Friday said he will not let anyone obstruct development work in the state while responding to highways minister Nitin Gadkari’s letter accusing Shiv Sena leaders of obstructing national highway projects.
Speaking at the inauguration of a key stretch of the Nagpur Metro, Thackeray also noted that leaders are expected to keep politics aside while bringing people together. Gadkari was also present at the inauguration in person while Thackeray addressed the event via video conference.
In his speech, the union minister said that “Maharashtra is changing even today” (under the current leadership) and the central government will stand with the state with all its power.
In response, Thackeray said, “Nitin ji, you speak very sweetly, but write very strong letters.”
The chief minister added, “Our relationship is a little different. You are also strongly bound to responsibility and so are we. Shiv Sena chief Balasaheb Thackeray’s teaching, which you have also imbibed, is that always be truthful to your people and never let any obstacles come in public work.”
“As the state government, whatever needs to be done, we will be together with you at every step of the way and while doing so we will not let anyone come in the way of the state’s development. This is my testimony.”
The two leaders, along with Urban Affairs Minister Hardeep Singh Puri, inaugurated a 1.6-km stretch on the Nagpur Metro between Sitalbudi and Kasturchand Park stations, which also includes the country’s first metro station inside a 20-storey building.
‘We leave politics aside while bringing people together’
Last month, in a two-page letter to Thackeray, Gadkari had accused Shiv Sena leaders of obstructing projects of the National Highway Authority of India (NHAI) by “using threats and making irrational demands”.
In the letter, which was leaked last week, the minister cited instances of four national highway projects where work had allegedly been stopped by Sena leaders.
However, ThePrint spoke to several party leaders who denied the allegations and said the projects were stalled because of issues such as litigation and land acquisition. They added that any protests held at the sites mentioned were because of inferior quality of work.
In his speech at the Nagpur Metro inauguration, Gadkari did not mention his letter to CM Thackeray but instead spoke about the extent of development work that his ministry is coordinating with the Maharashtra government, particularly the Maharashtra State Road Development Corporation (MSRDC) that is headed by Shiv Sena’s Eknath Shinde.
Meanwhile, Thackeray, during his address, said that he was happy to hear about the coordination between the state government and the Centre. “It is in the culture of our state and our country that while bringing people together we leave our political shoes outside the door.”
The CM also brought up the controversial issue of the location of a Metro car depot for Mumbai’s first underground corridor in his speech, which has been a political flashpoint between the BJP and Shiv Sena.
While the Shiv Sena-led Maharashtra government has decided to move it out of its previous location, the ecologically-sensitive Aarey Colony, to a land at Kanjurmarg, the BJP-led central government has opposed it, claiming ownership of the plot.
“We should keep taking suggestions from people for development works in cities across Nagpur, Pune, Mumbai, such as where a Metro car shed should be located,” said Thackeray at the inauguration.
(Edited by Rachel John)