After the Narendra Modi-led government's directive to ministries over the use of Hindi on social media sites led to a furore, Shiv Sena has come out in support of its ally. The move had raised the hackles of DMK and AIADMK.
"Prime minister Narendra Modi has given a place of pride to Hindi," said an editorial on Friday in the Sena mouthpiece Saamna, which has party president Uddhav Thackeray as the editor and Rajya Sabha MP and spokesperson Sanjay Raut as the executive editor. It referred to how Modi spoke before the Bhutan Parliament in Hindi and how the Odisha assembly had prevented a legislator from asking questions in Hindi. It called the developments in Odisha "shocking" and questioned the silence of proponents of Hindi in Mumbai and India at large.
It also charged that leaders from Uttar Pradesh and Bihar made a hue and cry about injustice to Hindi speakers in Maharashtra after trivial happenings but kept quiet on incidents like those in Odisha.
"There must be pride about a language and not hubris. However, when Marathi is respected in Maharashtra, devotees of Hindi condemn and oppose it. Many a times attempts are made purposely to change the language and culture of Mumbai," the editorial said, adding that leaders from Hindi-speaking states were adopting double standards when it came to Maharashtra and other states.
It said attempts to give English pre-eminence over Hindi were "worrying" and also attacked DMK chief and former Tamil Nadu chief minister M Karunanidhi for his opposition to the Union home minister's directive on use of Hindi on social networking sites.
"It is wrong to insult Hindi this way. The central government must not fall prey to such pressure," the editorial said, pointing to how Modi was himself stressing on the use of Hindi. It noted how Modi had addressed rallies in Hindi in "anti-Hindi" southern states Tamil Nadu and Kerala, where he received a rousing response. It claimed that Modi would speak to US President Barack Obama in Hindi if the duo met.
The editorial argued that while English was a global language, which drove the knowledge economy, it was no reason to kill the national language (Hindi).
Shiv Sena has unveiled an ambitious idea to transform the eastern waterfront, which is otherwise seen as the armpit of Mumbai, with a huge seafront, open spaces, entrepreneurial hubs, industrial activity, schools and amenities, BRTS and a north-south transport corridor.
Mumbai, which is spread over a 437.71 sqkm area, has just 28.44 sqkm open spaces, which works out to less than two square metres as compared to 4.84 in London and 9.16 in Shanghai. The eastern waterfront has an area covering around 4,380 acres from Colaba to Trombay, and most of the land is owned by the Mumbai Port Trust, which began operations in the 19th century. However, the operationalisation of the Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust across the coast in Raigad district has led to traffic in the MbPT being affected.
Pankaj Joshi of the Urban Design Research Institute said around 911 acres of land, which was being put to sub-optimum use by the port and was being gradually taken over by slums, could be used for the eastern waterfront project.
"This land belongs to Mumbai and yet is not in its custody," said Uddhav, adding that he had asked mayor Sunil Prabhu to incorporate the land in the city's proposed development plan. He added that they would approach Modi and surface transport and shipping minister Nitin Gadkari in this regard.
Joshi said using the land would help solve many problems of the island city and also create around 28 km of an integrated waterfront, as against around 5 km on the western front.