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Don’t want Shivaji statue in Arabian Sea: Raj Thackeray

According to him, it would be a better tribute to Shivaji if forts constructed by him are upgraded.

MNS Chief Raj Thackeray-AV

MNS Chief Raj Thackeray criticised the state government’s proposal to construct Chhatra-pati Shivaji memorial’s statue in the Arabian Sea and said that instead the administration could focus on conservation of the Maratha warrior’s forts which are in dire straits. According to him it would be a better tribute to Shivaji if forts constructed by him are upgraded and tourism increased there which will help poor farmers to adopt alternate jobs. Thackeray said that what is the need to spend huge amount for the statue at a time when the state is witnessing severe drought and farmers are committing suicides? The govern-ment plans to develop the memorial on seven acres of island. The entire island will look like a fort reminiscent of medieval times.

Raj Thackeray had felicitated historian Babasaheb Purandare and M.K Mahajan on the occasion of the first anniversary of Guardian Giripremi Institute of Mountain-eering at Pune. He opposed the construction of the Shivaji memorial on this occasion.

He said, “Often statues are constructed by flouting norms and thereby cause damage to the environment. Instead the state government should conserve the forts of Shivaji Maharaj which will be a better tribute for him.”

The Sena-BJP is keenly pushing for the project but Raj Thackeray has termed it as a political move to appease voters. Earlier even Sena founder Bal Thackeray had slammed the plan and termed it as a poll-driven excercise. Raj Thackeray who had earlier visited Gujarat had praised Narendra Modi (former CM of Gujarat) for the state’s development. However, ever since Modi had become the Prime Minister, Raj Thackeray has started criticising him and the policies of the central government and state government.

There was no demand in the state to construct statue in the memory of Shivaji Maharaj. Already there are several memorials in the name of Shivaji whose name also adorns the state’s biggest airport and railway station complex.

The project first found mention in the 2004 poll manifesto of the Congress-NCP. It was tabled in the assembly in 2008 and reiterated just before the 2009 state assembly elections. The state at that time was in the midst of dealing with drought and farmer suicides. The idea was to construct the 300-foot statue on an artificially-created island off the coast of Chowpatty–Marine Drive and make it taller than the Statue of Liberty. The project envisaged the construction of an amphitheatre, museum, library, art galleries, revolving restaurant and the works. Now the Sena-BJP has come forward with the proposal of constructing the memorial of Shivaji for garnering political mileage. On the other hand, citizens want the government to improve infrastructure, create more job opportunities, increase spend on healthcare and education and end malnutrition in the state.

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