Amid the widening rift between the Shiv Sena and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Sena president Uddhav Thackeray held a marathon meeting on Monday with his party’s ministers and legislators and asked them to oppose the Centre's land acquisition law in and outside the state legislature.
Uddhav, who had recently said the Mumbai Development Plan (DP) released by the administration of the BrihanMumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) proposing a hike in floor space index (FSI) be “thrown in the dustbin”, told Sena ministers and legislators the party could not give its consent for the DP. Uddhav said the Sena wants to regain the confidence of its traditional vote bank, the Marathi Manoos, ahead of the February 2017 BMC polls.
Monday’s meeting coincided with the Budget session of the Maharashtra Legislature.
A senior party minister, who was present at Uddhav's meeting, told Business Standard: “The Shiv Sena, despite being in the government at the Centre and in Maharashtra, cannot support the land acquisition law in the present format as it is totally against farmers. The party wants that the government to change the law to protect the interests of the farmers and poor. Farmers will willingly give their land for developmental projects. However, the government will have to increase the lease period and ensure alternate source of income for them.”
The minister recalled that Uddhav has already asked the ministers, legislators and party representatives to reach out to the people across the state on the contentious provisions of the land acquisition law.
The minister said the Shiv Sena would not allow farmers' land to be grabbed under the pretext of development. “It is true that Union minister Nitin Gadkari met Uddhav with a request for party's support. However, the Shiv Sena has already dashed off a letter reiterating its opposition on various provisions. The party wants provisions with regard to consent, acquisition of land for private projects be amended,” the minister added.
Another Shiv Sena leader said Uddhav also asked legislators to strive for the party's consolidation so that it could emerge the single-largest party in the state legislature. The Shiv Sena, which independently fought the Assembly poll held last year, has won 63 seats and after some initial opposition joined the BJP-led government on December 5.
On the increase in FSI in Mumbai and the development of Metro III, Uddhav said the vertical growth of Mumbai would lead to further increase in prices and that it would be beyond the reach of the Marathi Manoos. The Sena has also demanded the 32-km Mumbai Metro III project be scrapped if the rehabilitation of the residents of traditional chawls in south Mumbai is not done before the commencement of construction.