Mumbai: The third edition of the Paani Foundation’s ‘Satyameva Jayate Water Cup’ turned into a podium for political sabre-rattling with Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) chief Raj Thackeray taking potshots at the erstwhile Congress-NCP government as well as the current Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)- Shiv Sena coalition over the State’s irrigation woes.
Speaking at the third edition of Water Cup award ceremony at Pune on Sunday, Thackeray said, “If actor Aamir Khan is doing the work drought-proofing and spreading awareness about it, then the question arises as to what governments were doing all the while since Maharashtra became a State in 1960. Where did all the irrigation money go?” The event witnessed a number of ruling and opposition leaders including Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader Ajit Pawar, Maharashtra Pradesh Congress Committee president Ashok Chavan and senior Congress leader and Leader of Opposition (LoP) in state assembly Radhakrishna Vikhe-Patil among others.
Issuing a thinly-veiled criticism to Pawar, the MNS chief further remarked that if all of Maharashtra’s successive governments had properly utilised their irrigation funds, the State’s water table would not have sunk so low. “However, this is not a podium for expressing political differences,” said Thackeray, adding that there would be enough opportunities in the next few months before the 2019 Parliamentary and Assembly polls.
Later in his address, Pawar, without taking name of Thackeray, the MNS leader’s name, countered with his style. “Some people are mere experts at talking. They neither want to do anything nor have the urge to strive for anything. All they do is to play to the gallery,” Pawar said.
Fadnavis, responding directly to Thackeray’s question, said: “It is not the fault of the people that Maharashtra is not yet drought-proof. We have indulged in factionalism and one-upmanship at regional and State levels.” Lauding the work done by the Paani Foundation, Fadnavis remarked that it had transcended political and class barriers by getting so many people involved in a critical project.