Mumbai:- A couple of days after Union Minister for Highways Nitin Gadkari dropped a ‘letter-bomb’ in Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray’s lap, the Shiv Sena has hit back in full force.
Accusing Sena leaders and activists in some places like Washim of giving “threats, making irrational demands” from contractors or officials, Gadkari said the works on the national highway projects in the state are being affected.
The Bharatiya Janata Party central minister, hailing from Nagpur, virtually threatened to stop the ongoing works in the Washim district and even yank off all future highway projects from Maharashtra if such acts are not reined in.
Taken aback by the harsh tone of the soft-spoken Gadkari’s letter, Thackeray promptly asked Home Minister Dilip Walse-Patil to direct the Director-General of Police (DGP) Sanjay Pandey to probe the issue.
Simultaneously, senior Sena leader Kishore Tiwari – accorded a MoS status – launched a missile asking why Gadkari did not publicise his earlier letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi in which he had named BJP political and elected leaders from all over India making ‘extortion demands’ from road contractors.
Gadkari’s grouse pertains mainly to the Washim-Akola section of the ongoing highway projects, where he said Sena activists burnt road building machines and warned that if the Sena leaders and elected representatives repeat such behaviour it will be difficult to continue with the projects.
Responding, Sena MP from Washim-Yavatmal, Bhavana Gawali-Patil said Gadkari was “misled” and pointed out that around 90 per cent of the work in her constituency was completed, although there were local hurdles in some areas which she would find out.
Claiming that most political parties are engaged in such activities in lucrative road contracts, Tiwari alleged that even the minister and his family’s companies “have a finger” in all road and toll contracts.
He said that right from 2014, contractors owing allegiance to certain BJP politicians grab the roads-tolls contracts and for a hefty commission, give a sub-contract even to bankrupt companies or blacklisted entities, but after complaints of inferior quality, several projects were stopped many times.
“I have a list of your supporters, even your past and present companies besides other BJP political or elected leaders engaged in nefarious deals for roads-tolls projects, and looting thousands of crores of rupees of public money through bankse Will you make your letter to PM public, just as you did with the letter to Maharashtra CM,” said Tiwari throwing the gauntlet at Gadkari.
The Sena leader further pointed out that though Thackeray has always held Gadkari in high esteem, through his letter, the latter is now trying to edge close to “the small group of state BJP leaders” who are continuously targeting the Maha Vikas Aghadi government.
As tempers continued, Nationalist Congress Party’s Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar stressed that if the quality of road works is not good, then action should be taken against the contractors.
Since Gadkari has written to the CM, the government will enquire the situation at the ground level especially since Thackeray has always stated that “work quality would never be compromised”, said Pawar.