Mumbai: With an eye on the BMC elections and in a bid to grab the attention of the Shiv Sena’s traditional Marathi-speaking voters, the party’s MP, Sanjay Raut, accused the BJP of conspiring to make Mumbai a Union Territory, saying that a presentation to that effect has been made to the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA). Raut alleged on Friday that a group of party leaders, builders, businessmen were part of this conspiracy.
His allegations against the BJP came days after the Enforcement Directorate attached the properties of his wife and aides. He has been targeting the BJP-led government at the Centre for the alleged misuse of central probe agencies against the Maha Vikas Aghadi leaders in the state.
“A presentation about making Mumbai a Union Territory has been made to the MHA by this group. Meetings have been held and funds are being collected for this purpose. This has been going on for the last two months and I am saying this with full responsibility. I have proof to substantiate what I am saying. Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray is also aware of this development,” Raut said.
In the next few months, a group of BJP leaders is likely to move court, saying the percentage of Marathi people in Mumbai, the capital of Maharashtra, has gone down drastically and hence the city should be made a Union Territory, which would bring it under the rule of the Central government, claimed Raut.
Raut said some BJP leaders had earlier challenged the state government’s decision to make Marathi a compulsory language in schools.
The Free Press Journal had said in its Friday edition that the Shiv Sena suspects that the BJP plans to carve out Mumbai as a Union Territory and thereby reduce its importance as the financial and commercial capital of the country. The claim by Raut and the Shiv Sena is not new, as in 2014, they had strongly criticised former Gujarat Chief Minister Anandiben Patel’s move to roll out the red carpet for investors and industrialists in her state, asking them to think beyond Mumbai. Thereafter, the Shiv Sena had condemned the Centre’s move to give all the possible sops to GIFT City as the international finance centre, and not to Mumbai.
The Shiv Sena is expected to aggressively play up this alleged conspiracy in the upcoming BMC elections, to take on the BJP’s Mission 2022 to overthrow the Shiv Sena’s more-than-25 years of dominance of the civic body.
It must be mentioned here that Laxman Savadi, the deputy chief minister of Karnataka, had, in January 2021, mocked Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray over the Belagavi dispute, requesting the Central government to declare Mumbai a Union Territory. “Mumbai should be included in Karnataka. Until that is done, I request the Central government to declare Mumbai as a Union Territory,” Savadi had said. His statement was condemned by the Shiv Sena.
CM Thackeray had said that areas dominated by Marathi-speaking people on the state’s border with Karnataka should be declared as a Union Territory till the Supreme Court gave its final verdict on the issue.