Cracks appeared among the agitating fishermen outfits as Maharashtra government claimed that they have withdrawn their stir against the proposed Shivaji Maharaj memorial off Mumbai coast whose foundation stone will be layed by the Prime Minister on Saturday.
A prominent agitating outfit, Akhil Maharashtra Machhimar Kriti Samiti (AMMKS), distanced itself from the “agreement” announced after talks between Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis and fishermen associations and said it will go ahead with its protest.
After the meeting last night, a senior official said that “fishermen have agreed to withdraw their agitation against Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Memorial Bhoomipujan”.
Fadnavis assured the fishermen that the government will look into their concerns. “At the meeting, it was decided to constitute a joint committee to resolve their issues. The CM thanked fishermen associations,” the official said.
However, soon after this announcement, AMMKS leader Damodar Tandel said his association was not a part of the agreement.
“The government is trying to split the fishermen. We will continue our protest today by showing black flags and taking out a bike rally from Colaba to Girgaum,” Tandel said.
The livelihood of 1.5 lakh fishermen residing at five villages in south Mumbai, who have 1,500 large boats and 450 small ones, will be affected by the construction, Tandel claimed.
The memorial’s main feature will be a 192-metre-tall statue of the Maratha king. The site is a rocky outcrop roughly 1.5 km from the Raj Bhavan shore of Mumbai.
Meanwhile, at a programme held in Chembur on Friday to welcome the various ‘kalash’ (vase) carrying water and soil from all districts of Maharashtra, BJP ally and chief of Shivsmarak Samiti’s chief Vinayak Mete, linked the kalash procession to BJP’s electoral politics, ahead of the crucial BMC polls slated early next year.
“This programme is being organised not for the honour of Shivaji Maharaj but to implement the agenda of ‘shat pratishat BJP’ (100 per cent BJP),” Mete said.
“Instead of the atmosphere looking Shivmay (full of Shivaji’s aura), it looks BJPmay (full of BJP),” he said.
Maharashtra ministers Chandrakant Patil, Vinod Tawde and state BJP chief Raosaheb Danve were part of the procession at Chembur. Mete, however, did not stay till the event got over.
The rally, led by a ‘Shivaji chariot’, began at Chembur and will conclude at the Gateway of India, where Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis will receive the soil urns this evening.
At the Chembur event, representatives from various districts gathered with collections of sand and soil from Shivaji’s forts across the state.