Mumbai: Hectic preparations are underway by the Shiv Sena (UBT) for its planned march on Saturday against 'massive corruption in the BMC,' which is controlled by the Shiv Sena-BJP coalition government. The march will commence at 4.00 pm from Metro cinema junction at Dhobi Talao and culminate in a rally in front of the BMC head office opposite Azad Maidan. 'We have received necessary permission from the police to erect a stage and hold the rally in front of the BMC office," said Harshal Pradhan, the party spokesperson, in an interview with FPJ on Friday.
Massive show of strength
The march is being organised as a massive show of strength by the Shiv Sena (UBT), led by Uddhav Thackeray and his son, Aaditya. Recently, a meeting was held for all office-bearers from the shakha level upwards, where they were instructed to mobilize a maximum number of people for the protest. Shiv Sainiks from Thane, Kalyan-Dombivli, and other places outside the metropolis are expected to participate. Despite several MLAs leaving to join the Shiv Sena led by Chief Minister Eknath Shinde, the organization and front organisations like the Sthaniya Lokadhikar Samiti, Bharatiya Kamgar Sena, and the Yuva Sena are mostly standing firmly behind the Thackerays. Although the Election Commission has declared the party led by Shinde to be the official Shiv Sena, Uddhav Thackeray aims to demonstrate on Saturday that his is the real Shiv Sena, founded by the late Bal Thackeray. The Sena (UBT) accuses Shinde and his party of betraying the organisation in their 'greed for power."
The march also aims to put the Shinde-Fadnavis government on the defensive by raising the issue of corruption in the BMC. Aaditya Thackeray had alleged that contracts for road concretisation and street furniture were awarded without proper diligence. "If the erstwhile BJP government of Karnataka had taken a 40 per cent commission from contractors, the Maharashtra government has received a much larger percentage from civic contracts," he claimed. Interestingly, both the Shiv Sena (UBT) and the BJP find themselves inadvertently on the same page, with both accusing the civic administration of massive corruption.
Sources within the Shiv Sena led by Shinde allege that the Thackerays are organizing the march to divert public attention from the rampant corruption in the BMC during the pandemic. "The ED probe is leading to the doorsteps of top Sena leaders. In fact, a Sena functionary himself has provided highly incriminating evidence to the ED," a source said. The CAG has already confirmed large-scale corruption during the pandemic. A second, more damning report from the CAG is expected to be presented on the floor of the house by Deputy CM Devendra Fadnavis of the BJP during the monsoon session of the legislature scheduled to commence on July 17. An SIT is already investigating corruption in the BMC during the tenure of the erstwhile MVA government led by Uddhav Thackeray.