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Raj Thackeray: ‘Impossible to build Chhatrapati’s Arabian Sea memorial off Mumbai’



Mumbai, March 9 (IANS) Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) President Raj Thackeray has said that it would be difficult and prohibitively expensive to build the proposed grand memorial of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj in the Arabian Sea off Mumbai, here on Saturday.

The monument proposal was first mooted 20 years (2004) ago by the then Congress-Nationalist Congress Party government, then carried forward by subsequent regimes of Bharatiya Janata Party-Shiv Sena, the MVA administration of Shiv Sena (UBT)-Congress-Nationalist Congress Party (SP), and still remains a ‘live issue’ under the present Shiv Sena-BJP-NCP rule.

The project was expected to kick off in a big way after Prime Minister Narendra Modi went in a motorboat and performed the ‘Jal Pooja’ at the proposed site, 1.5 kms opposite the Marine Drive sea-face on December 24, 2016.

Raj Thackeray categorically that irrespective of the promises all these governments have made, “It is impossible and impractical to build the memorial of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj in the sea off Mumbai.”

Pooh-poohing claims that the statue would be taller than the Statue of Liberty (Oct. 1886) off New York harbor, Raj Thackeray said that it is built on a tiny rocky island which is firmly entrenched on the sea-bed.

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“Here, there is no such thing. The government will have to create an artificial islet with materials. At today’s rate, I can say that it will cost at least Rs 25,000-30,000 crore. It’s simply not possible to build the statue there,” affirmed Raj Thackeray, reiterating his statement made eight years ago.

He questioned the need to spend so much money, “when the real legacy is the majestic forts built by the Chhatrapati, why not revamp them”, and asked whether we want to bequeath the future generations a statue in the sea.

Raj Thackeray’s strong remarks came on the 18th foundation day of the MNS celebrated at Nashik with great fanfare.

The MNS chief also frowned at the manner in which society is being divided on ‘caste lines’ with promises being doled out that can’t be fulfilled, as in the case of the Maratha community.

“When I met (Shivba Sanghatana leader) Manoj Jarange-Patil, I bluntly told him that what (quota) he was seeking is out of the question, owing to various reasons like the Parliament, Supreme Court, etc., and giving it to one community will lead to similar flare-ups of different groups from all over India,” warned Raj Thackeray.

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The estranged cousin of Shiv Sena (UBT) President and ex-CM Uddhav Thackeray, he said that “we have to build a new Maharashtra which has no place for the poison of divisions based on caste, community” and called upon the MNS activists to shun such practices always.

“Don’t get misled. They are doling out assurances on things like quotas that cannot be given but ignoring the real issues like education for the masses and jobs for the youth. It’s possible to provide education and jobs to all the people here, but the Marathis are never united, so they are exploited, their votes get divided and they resort to toxic castes-linked politics,” thundered Raj Thackeray.

Answering a nagging doubt of many people why the party has not made it big in terms of capturing power, the MNS sagely pointed out that in order to succeed in politics, patience is needed and vowed that “I will give you success (power).”

He cited the examples of the Jan Sangh, then the BJP which worked for many decades before it finally tasted power under Atal Bihari Vajpayee who became PM for 13 days, then 13 months, and then a full five-year term; followed by PM Modi’s government which has lasted 10 years since 2014.

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Raj Thackeray claimed that since Independence, Maharashtra has seen only three real grassroots-level parties – the Jan Sangh, then Shiv Sena founded by his uncle Balasaheb Thackeray and then his MNS.

“Despite seeing so many ups and downs – mostly downs – all of you have stood behind me solidly… I promise that we will succeed. Wherever I go, people stop and tell me that they have faith only in me now. Please have patience,” contended Raj Thackeray.

Raj Thackeray also took a swipe at the media for alleging that he left agitations ‘midway’, and countered by listing all his crusades that were completed till the logical end, and said that he would do many more things at one shot after coming to power.

He announced that he will give many more pieces of his mind at the upcoming mega-rally in Mumbai on April 9, marking Gudi Padva, the Maharashtrian New Year.

(Quaid Najmi can be contacted at:



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Security beefed up in Kanyakumari ahead of PM Modi's visit




Chennai, May 30 (IANS) Security has been beefed up in Tamil Nadu’s Kanyakumari district ahead of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit who is scheduled to arrive at around 4.45 p.m. in a helicopter from Thiruvananthapuram International Airport.

The Prime Minister is visiting Kanyakumari for a three-day meditation at Vivekananda Rock Memorial from May 30 to June 1.

Around 3,000 police personnel are in place for the Prime Minister’s visit.

PM Narendra Modi is scheduled to reach the government guest house in the district from the helipad and after that, he will visit the Kanyakumari Devi temple where he will offer prayers.

The Prime Minister is scheduled to travel to the Vivekananda Rock memorial on a ferry and will be in the meditation hall of the Rock memorial for close to 45 hours.

Restrictions are in place in the district and in the Kanyakumari Devi temple where the Prime Minister will reach in the evening for prayers.

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Meanwhile, Congress has opposed the Prime Minister’s three-day stay for meditation. Tamil Nadu Congress Committee president K. Selvaperunthagai wrote a letter to the Election Commission of India not to grant permission for the visit as it violated the model code of conduct. The Congress leader said that this was a silent election campaign.



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Seychelles patrol vessel leaves for home after GRSE completes refit in record time




Kolkata, May 30 (IANS) There was cheer all around as fast patrol vessel SCG PS Zoroaster set sail from the Rajabagan Dockyard of Garden Reach Shipbuilders and Engineers (GRSE) Ltd in Kolkata on Wednesday after completion of its maiden short refit.

The refit was to last 90 days but GRSE added yet another feather to its cap by completing the process in just 60 days. SCG PS Zoroaster was built by GRSE and handed over to the Seychelles Coast Guard by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on April 8, 2021.

In keeping with modern shipbuilding practices, GRSE — a Defence PSU that has delivered over 100 warships to the Indian Navy and Indian Coast Guard — not only builds warships but carries out refits, repairs and upgrades on them as and when required.

Accordingly, the refitting of SCG PS Zoroaster began on March 22 this year and was completed on May 24. According to a senior GRSE official, this was possible through meticulous planning and an advanced execution strategy.

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“This is in keeping with India’s Security and Growth for All in the Region (SAGAR) vision. Undertaking such a refit for a foreign nation was a unique endeavour for GRSE that will go a long way in strengthening collaborative efforts between India and Seychelles towards enhancing regional stability and security,” the official added.

An Indian Navy team of experts from the Eastern Naval Command at Visakhapatnam carried out sea safety checks after the refit. River trials of the ship’s machinery were also successfully carried out. The team will continue with the checks at sea till the SCG PS Zoroaster stops by at Visakhapatnam before sailing for the Seychelles.

“The ship’s stay at Kolkata was supported by the Indian Navy through INS Netaji Subhas. The crew of the vessel was seen off by the Indian Navy and GRSE and will carry fond memories of their stay in the City of Joy,” the Navy has posted on X.

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J&K: 7 killed, 28 injured after bus falls in gorge in Akhnoor




Jammu, May 30 (IANS) Seven people were killed and 28 injured on Thursday after a bus carrying pilgrims fell into a deep gorge in J&K’s Akhnoor area on the Jammu-Poonch highway.

Officials said that seven people have died and 28 others were injured after a bus carrying pilgrims went out of the driver’s control near Chungi Morh at Chowk Choura in the Akhnoor area on the Jammu-Poonch road.

The bus was reportedly carrying pilgrims from Hathras, Uttar Pradesh.

The injured have been shifted to Akhnoor Hospital from where those with critical injuries have been referred to the government medical college hospital in Jammu city, officials added.

A massive relief and rescue operation is underway.



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Local issues, not national, dominated campaigning for 42 LS seats in Bengal




Kolkata, May 30 (IANS) With campaigning in the last and seventh phase of polls for nine Lok Sabha constituencies set to end within a few hours, a quick look back shows that local issues took precedence over national matters during the campaigns for the 42 seats in West Bengal.

Although the electorate is voting to elect the government at the Centre, the focus of all political parties in the fray is still on state-centric issues and how the results of the Lok Sabha polls in Bengal will determine the longevity of the ruling government in the state, which is officially scheduled to continue till 2026.

For instance, the BJP has focussed on issues like corruption cases against the state government and Trinamool Congress leaders, charges of sexual harassment of women at Sandeshkhali and misuse of funds released under centrally-sponsored projects.

Interestingly, this line of campaigning has not just been followed by prominent BJP leaders in the state like President Sukanta Majumdar or the Leader of Opposition Suvendu Adhikari, but even by the party’s national leadership.

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The campaign speeches of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Home Minister Amit Shah were full of references of state-specific issues.

Although both PM Modi and HM Shah touched upon national issues like India’s social and economic progress in the last 10 years, the time allotted for the same was too less compared to the references to state-specific issues.

For instance, in the campaigns for the last two phases, PM Modi focussed on Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s observations, accusing a section of the monks of Bharat Sevashram Sangha, Ramakrishna Math and Ramakrishna Mission and ISKCON of acting on behalf of the BJP.

On the other hand, Trinamool Congress leaders, especially Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and the party’s General Secretary Abhishek Banerjee devoted most of the time in either defending the allegations made by the BJP or in explaining how the saffron party has deprived the state government of its legitimate dues under different centrally-sponsored schemes.

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In addition, both leaders have dedicated much time on how the NRC, CAA and UCC will be against the interest of the Muslim community and how determined the Trinamool Congress is to block these in West Bengal.

Similarly, in the campaign meetings for the last two phases, CM Banerjee has devoted substantial time in explaining that her comments on the iconic religious institutions were being misinterpreted and she had never been against such entities.

However, one interesting similarity in the campaigns of the BJP and the Trinamool Congress has been their take on the CPI(M) and the Congress.

Both BJP and Trinamool Congress have accused the CPI(M) and the Congress of having a covert understanding with their political rival in the state.

This slur war was kicked off by CM Banerjee when she started describing CPI(M) and the West Bengal unit of the Congress as clandestine partners of the BJP in the state.

Soon the BJP leadership, including PM Modi launched a counter-campaign describing CPI(M) and Trinamool Congress as “enemies in Bengal but partners in Delhi.”

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Surprisingly, even the Congress-Left Front alliance in West Bengal has focussed on state- specific issues while campaigning.

The alliance leaders have mainly talked about three issues, namely cases of corruption, clandestine understanding between BJP and Trinamool Congress and attempts to polarise voters in the state on religious lines by the BJP and Trinamool Congress.

An interesting factor in the Trinamool Congress’ campaign for these General Elections has been the constantly-shifting stand of CM Banerjee on the INDIA bloc.

After claiming that the INDIA bloc will end the tally with over 300 seats, with the BJP stopping at a little over 200, the CM said that she would give outside support to any probable Union government formed by the Opposition alliance.

Within days she shifted her stand and claimed that she is very much a part of the INDIA bloc and will take the lead role in any probable Opposition-led government at the Centre.



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Now, a 3-day 'Dharavi Premier League' cricket tourney to kickstart on May 31




Mumbai, May 30 (IANS) The Dharavi Redevelopment Project Pvt Ltd (DRPPL), a joint venture of Maharashtra Government and Adani Group, will unveil the first three-day cricket tournament, Dharavi Premier League (DPL) to salute the spirit of over one million souls residing in Asia’s largest informal settlement, as per an official statement here on Thursday.

The tourney will be divided into six phases, with the first featuring 14 teams and over 200 players from Sector 1 of Dharavi, which is the largest geographically and population-wise, covering areas of Matunga Labour Camp, Shahu Nagar, Sat Chawl, Valmiki Nagar and Kamala Nagar.

The matches will be played in a 10-over format on a knockout basis at the RPF Grounds in Dharavi under floodlights and shall be governed by the ICC rulebook for T20 cricket, including a third umpire and an equal number of referrals available to both competing teams, on the lines of the professional matches.

The 14 teams from Sector 1 are: Thunder Boltz, Strikers, Valmiki Giants, Team Spirit, Vicky Panthers, Matunga Warriors, Young Boyz, Shahunagar Singhams, Hibah Ke Fighters, Meghdoot Blasters, Ashtavinayak Squad, Morya Boyz, Samrat and Lions Cricket Club.

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The match, with replays, including decisions referred to the third umpire, will be broadcast live on big LED screens and on DPL’s YouTube handle @dharavipremierleague.

The DPL is being organised by the people of Dharavi, who will also provide in-match entertainment, music and food.

Apart from the players, the match referees, umpires, and groundsmen are all residents of Dharavi.

There will be cash prizes for the lucky winners and runners-up, and categories like the man of the match and the player of the series, besides spot prizes for the viewers who come to cheer their favourite teams.



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