Aarey Protest : The rise of Right-Wing Politics in Maharashtra
The state of Maharashtra will go in for polls on 21st October. However, more than the assembly election, the state has been in news for Aarey protest. Hundreds of students led by the Bollywood celebrities have been protesting the cutting of over 2000 trees of Aarey forest in order to build Mumbai metro car shed. Following strong protests by activists against the felling of trees in the green zone for a Metro car shed, police-imposed section 144 of the Criminal Procedure Code in Aarey Colony and surrounding areas on Saturday, 5th October. Around 29 protestors were arrested who were later released from Thane jail.
What is Aarey Controversy?
Mumbai’s Aarey Forest is often regarded as “city’s lung”, spread over 13,000 hectares, the forest consists of over 1.5 lakh trees. It must be noted that the area where the Metro car shed is being constructed does not form the part of forest land. In an interview to a media house, CM of Maharashtra Devendra Fadnavis clearly mentioned that the land belonged to state government. Link
However, after the Mumbai’s Civic authority granted the permission for cutting over 2000 trees in Aarey forest, a city-based NGO filed a petition in Bombay High Court. On 4th October Bombay High Court dismissed all the petition against the proposed cutting down of trees. After the High Court ruling against the protesters, a highly dramatic protest started in the area which was supported by many well-known faces of Bollywood. To a surprise, BJP’s ally Shiv Sena too supported the protest and vowed to take actions against the ones who led to the destruction of forest.
How Aarey Protest is Paving a way for right wing politics?
Aarey forest protest has taken a political shape when Shiv Sena stepped into it. It must be remembered that BJP-Shiv Sena are contesting the upcoming assembly election in alliance with each other. The opposition, NCP-Congress seems to have lost their path and are nowhere opposing this move of Maharashtra government. The Aarey protest is leading towards the future political image of Maharashtra. The state where BJP-Shiv Sena alliance is projected to win big in upcoming assembly election may be heading towards a complete right-wing politics. Shiv Sena may have realised the vacuum created by the opposition in the state. Therefore, taking the advantage of the situation, the saffron ally may sooner or later project itself as a main opposition to its other saffron ally BJP in the state.
“Aarey is the most important issue for me right now. Whatever is happening today, whatever was happening yesterday and whatever will happen in future, I will take detailed and in-depth information of what the situation is and will speak firmly and directly on the issue” the Sena Chief Uddav Thackrey told media on Saturday, 5th of October. He even referred to authority to be murderer of Aarey and vowed to deal with them after they come to power.
Aditya Thackrey, the first Thackrey scion who will be contesting the upcoming Assembly election from Worli has been continuously opposing the move of the government.
On Monday, 7th of October, the Honorable Supreme Court of India constituted a special bench for urgent hearing against the felling of trees in the Aarey forest in Maharashtra. On Monday, the Supreme Court stayed the felling of more trees of Aarey forest. In reply the Solicitor General, Tushar Mehta said that the tree required to be cut has already been cut and no more trees is required to be cut. However, the Green activist can claim to it to be a moral victory for them but in reality Shiv Sena have already scored their political goal from the issue. With opposition parties of Maharashtra looking helpless, Shiv Sena is gradually projecting itself as main opposition to BJP in state. With Aditya Thackrey contesting election, Shiv Sena is creating to make the Thackrey scion the ruler of Shivaji Maharaj’s Maharashtra.