Centre wants to convert Mumbai into a Union Territory: Shiv Sena

Uddhav Thackeray
The Shiv Sena has alleged the Mumbai smart city project is a ploy by the Centre to convert the capital of Maharashtra into a Union Territory. In an editorial in its mouthpiece Saamna, Sena said it was an attempt to create a parallel administration.    

The editorial said the proposed special purpose vehicle (SPV) for the smart city project with equal contribution of funds by the state government and the BrihanMumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) would have control on the functioning of the civic body.  

The Sena is the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)’s ruling partner at the Centre and in Maharashtra. Its move to slam the smart city project is to be seen in the backdrop of the BMC election slated for 2017. The Sena along with the BJP has been ruling the civic body for close to two decades. The Sena wants to retain its supremacy, while the BJP is gearing up to go alone in the BMC polls. Referring to the draft of the smart city project, which was circulated in the BMC, the Sena said the project would only help the rich.

The Sena also said the SPV would have a chief executive and board of directors on the lines of any corporate entity and that the Centre would have direct control. As such, Mumbai would become a Centre’s colony or a Union Territory, it alleged. The party said it’s not against the development of the metropolis, but it can’t be done by losing its current status.

The party also took a swipe against the proposed funding arrangement, wherein the Centre will contribute Rs 500 crore in five years, while the state government and BMC will provide Rs 250 crore each during the same period. The saffron party termed it a “big joke”, especially when Mumbai contributes Rs 1.5 lakh crore annually towards various taxes to the Central kitty and BMC’s own budget is close to Rs 34,000 crore.

The Sena’s scathing attack comes close on the heels of its opposition to the goods and services tax (GST) Bill in the Rajya Sabha. According to the Sena, BMC will become financially defunct after it loses its annual income of Rs 8,000 through octroi duty alone.

Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray last week asked his party MPs to step up opposition if the Centre failed to incorporate a legal formula in the GST Bill to ensure allocation of funds directly to the civic body and not through the state government’s kitty after shift to the GST regime. Earlier, the party had opposed the Land Acquisition bill terming it against farmers. 

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