Like a thief, they hacked Aarey trees: Aaditya Thackeray

Aaditya Thackeray, who is the Yuva Sena Chief, Shiv Sena's Worli candidate and the son of Shiv Sena Chief Uddhav Thackeray, expressed his displeasure over the cutting of trees in Aarey. The trees were cut in the night akin to a thief's act, he said in a special interview with the Free Press Journal's Political Editor, Pramod Chunchuwar.

Question- You have promised to bring a legislation to give more power to elected public representatives in the local self government bodies. What will be the nature of this bill?

Answer- We are witnessing that the elected representative in the Local self government bodies are not having sufficient powers. This is affecting performance of these bodies.

I have seen in the world that public representative in key metros like New York have more power than their counterpart in other metros. They are almost like ministers.

We agree that there should be a sound check and balance system in the place to avoid misuse of these powers. We feel that the public representative in Mumbai, Nashik, Aurangabad and Pune should have more powers for decision-making and its implementation.

Has this demand stemmed from your experience in running BMC, where IAS officers are blamed for not allowing the elected body to work?

It will be wrong to say that IAS officers do not allow an elected body to work. Actually, this demand is based on our experience of hurdles in decision making and its implementation.

The decisions of local self government bodies has to pass through various channels, including Mantralaya. IAS officers working in local self government bodies too face these hurdles. Many times, these IAS officers are willing to do very good things but they could not.

If we take into consideration the example of BMC, there are many agencies in Mumbai. The people blame BMC for a pothole on the Western Express highway, which comes under the National Highway Authority.

In Mumbai, there are 16 agencies like MMRDA, MMRCL, Railways, NHAI, PWD at work. But there is no one organisation that will coordinate with these agencies. The elected public representative may play an important role in this.

The Thackeray family was known for having a remote control with them and not for contesting election. Why did you break this tradition? Why choose Worli instead of any rural constituency in Maharashtra?

The remote control is still with Uddhav Thackeray. But the remote control also needs a TV in front to work, isn't? I have 9 years of experience in active politics. I was willing to contest elections even in 2014. But that time my age was below 25 years.

Though Shiv Sena is a regional party in electoral politics, its voice is always national. Be it the issue of Kashmir, whether it is a matter of Rajasthan or Kerala, the Shiv Sena has been expressing its role at the national level in the national interest.

It is true that the option of contesting election from rural part was actively considered. But I wish to personally monitor the development work in my constituency in my personal capacity. It does not mean that I would not go to the rural part of Maharashtra.

In fact, my Jan-Aashirwad yatra passed through rural parts and got very good response. Worli is a constituency which truly represents Maharashtra.

The people of all key castes, religions and regions of Maharashtra reside here. It has Koliwadas where original inhabitants of Mumbai stay.

You have large populations of Marathis and other communities, there are slums, high-rises, BDD chawls and places not developed for 18-20 years.

There is a lot of scope for development. I know if I am elected, there will be challenges to develop Worli. But I dream to make Worli a model constituency.

Question- You played the politics of Marathi Manoos for a long time. But now you are appealing to Worli voters to vote for you in Gujarati, Tamil and other languages. Is this not a contradiction?

Answer- We have to use a hammer and chisel to carve a statue. After carving the statue, we did not use the hammer and chisel. If we did, it will destroy the statue. Whether it may be Gujarati or Tamil, all languages are Indian and spoken by our own people.

I have sent a pamphlet to all residents of Worli constituency where I have saluted them not only in Indian languages but also in foreign languages like French and German.

I will develop this constituency in such a way that even the foreign tourist will come to Worli area. This will boost tourism in Worli. I am following inclusive politics done by my grandfather Balasaheb Thackeray.

Question- After you jumped in the election process, what is your routine?

Answer- I do not believe in a 9 to 5 job. There is fun in non-routine. I have no fixed routine during the time of election. Sometimes, I am sleeping at one o'clock, sometimes at three, sometimes at four o'clock. At times, I have to get up at six o'clock in the morning or at nine o'clock.

Especially during elections, I work for the the whole day. Sometimes i work online because today is also the age of social media. I am missing my food at times, for which my mother snubs me.

I could not attend gym due to election work. In the last 6 months, I could not watch any movie. Even the poetry writing has stopped.

Question- Will your younger brother Tejas join politics after you enter assembly?

Answer- Tejas is currently touring in Maharashtra with our father Uddhav Thackeray. He is interested in wildlife. He is checking who is more wild? Whether politics or wildlife?

Question- After getting elected, will you prefer to join the cabinet or work only as a legislator?

Answer- Whether I will be a minister or Chief Minister will be decided by the people. To get to the floor, you first have to be climb steps. I will act as an MLA in the house.

There are many politicians in the state whose sole dream is the minister's post. In this round, they are not able to enjoy the whole process of democracy. I am not one of them. First let me win the election. Then the public will decide what should I do.

Question- Whose impact can be seen in your politics? Balasaheb Thackeray, Uddhav or Raj Thackeray?

Answer- My politics is completely influenced by the workers of Shiv Sena. Their devotion for party and Maharashtra inspires me. As they work without expecting any post and position, I am too am not expecting any post in politics.

Question- You were aggressive against building the Metro car shed in Aarey. Uddhav Thackeray had also claimed that the car shed will be changed. But despite this trees were cut in Aarey for the car shed and you chose to remain silent. Even your manifesto is missing this subject?

Answer- Since Aarey car shed is Mumbai's subject, we have not mentioned this issue in the state level manifesto. We are coming out with region-wise manifestos too. Aarey issue will feature in Mumbai regional manifesto and it will be uploaded on the website.

The manifesto is only for promises that we want to implement it for the next five years. The tree cutting was done by MMRCL and not by the government or BJP. The issue is city versus destruction. Even NEERI has said the Aarey is a flood plain.

We are very much angered about the way trees were cut. As MMRCL won the case in the Mumbai High Court and Mumbaikars lost in this legal battle, why did MMRCL cut trees in the night like a thief?

They should have celebrated their victory by cutting trees in the day. We want to convey our disappointment to the government through you. These officials of MMRCL should be sent to Pak Occupied Kashmir to attack terrorists.

Question- Why did Sena not protest or call a Mumbai bandh against tree cutting in Aarey?

Answer- It is not true that Sena did not protest. Our leaders like Subha Rawool, Shital Mhatre courted arrest when tree cutting was being carried away. We opposed this project right from the Development Plan process.

The tree cutting was also opposed by Sena in the Tree committee. Our corporator Yashwant Jadhav filed a petition against this in the High Court and now is going to Supreme Court.

But tree cutting was done by deploying police force of 3,000 personnel. We opposed using all our might. But if we had organised mass protests or called for Mumbai bandh, it would have been immoral and would have been a burden for the police force which is already under pressure during the election period.

Through you, I wish to ask whether the MMRCL chief ordered arrest of activists. These officers are misleading the state government. The youths who protested were arrested. What was their fault. Did they resort to a violent protest?

At one hand the government appeals to plant trees and on the other it cut trees. You are displacing tribals terming them encroachers but you are giving land to commercial malls in this Aarey. We have conveyed our disappointment to Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis in various committees of assembly and Lok Sabha.

Question- Your earlier scheme of Zunka-Bhakar failed. Is it possible to give "Thali" for Rs 10?

Answer- We have studied this scheme in detail before mentioning this in our manifesto. We have analysed the financial implications of this scheme for the next 10 years and it is financially possible.

We have also studied the implementation of our Zunka-Bhakar scheme in the past. We will bring international kitchens in Maharashtra. The Women Self Help group will get the work at these kitchens. If MacDonald can give food for Rs20, why the government cannot do?

Question- Single use plastic was banned in the state. But no effective implementation is seen.

Answer- The single use plastic was banned in 17 states, and we are the 18th state to ban it. But we were the first state to implement this ban. After this ban, the hotel and restaurant industry stopped using plastic spoons, plates, straws.

But 100 per cent implementation of this ban is not possible immediately, and it will take time of at least next 5 years. Because the use of plastic has become an inseperable part of life and it has acquired the status of "breath" of a human life. We are happy that PM Modi has copied our legislation word-by-word for the central government.

Question- What is the status of night life suggested by you?

Answer- We work 24x7 in Mumbai. People need food in the night too. This scheme is approved by BMC and the police. The Shops and Establishment Act has been amended. The Chief Minister's approval for this scheme is awaited.

The food and beverages industry employs 5 lakh people in Mumbai. If we allow night life, it will at least employ 10 lakh people. In London, this economy from 9 PM to 9 AM period is of dollar 5 billion. You can then imagine what will be the economy of Mumbai's night life.

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