Mumbai: The Maharashtra Cabinet on Wednesday will decide on the reversal of a waiver given to the event management company Wizcraft for the Michael Jackson concert it had helped organise in 1996. The then Sena-BJP government had granted an entertainment tax waiver, stating that the event was a charity event organised under the now defunct Shiv Udyog Sena, then headed by Raj Thackeray.
The profit from the show, amounting to Rs 3.4 crore, has been deposited in the court registry since a dispute was lodged by the Mumbai Grahak Panchayat. The then Shiv Sena-BJP alliance government had provided a waiver under section 6(3) of the Maharashtra Entertainment Duty Act, 1923.
The high court had recently directed that the cabinet decide on reversing the waiver, which means the entire amount, along with interest, may have to be given to the organiser.
Interestingly, however, the Shiv Udyog Sena, and not Wizcraft, was listed as the organiser of the concert. However, in court, Wizcraft has claimed the profits. The issue has been listed on the agenda for the cabinet meeting on Wednesday.
However, there is a political angle to the cabinet proposal, given the estrangment between Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray and his cousin Raj Thackeray. The Raj Thackeray-led Maharashtra Navnirman Sena has recently gone saffron, changing the colour of its party flag. There have been talk of a possible alliance between the MNS and the BJP. Even though both parties insist there is no truck between them for the BMC elections, both are on the same page when it comes to the issue of action against illegal residents from Bangladesh and Pakistan in the country.
The Shiv Sena-led Maha Vikas Aghadi government’s move comes at a time when the MNS has stepped up its attacks against the former. The MNS has criticised the state government on the shifting of metro car shed from Aarey Colony to Kanjurmarg, its handling of the coronavirus pandemic and the Sena's going away from Hindutva.