Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray virtually launched his party's election campaign on Monday, at a meeting of the Indian Merchants' Chamber at its hall in Churchgate. In his introductory remarks, Subhash Desai, senior Sena leader, projected Uddhav as the next chief minister. In fact, Sena's vision document was also released at the function.
In his address, Thackeray assured the audience that his party would create a business-friendly atmosphere. "Sena is in power at the Centre and in Mumbai municipal corporation. If it captures power in the state, it would be a powerful combination. We will spread the red carpet for the business community so long as interests of the poor are not affected. The Delhi-Mumbai industrial corridor and other mega projects would be given a boost. The interests of land owners and poor would also be protected," he asserted.
Referring to the alleged harassment by UPA II of the Birlas and other industrialists, Thackeray assured India Inc that the climate of fear would be removed, and sought their support.
IMC president Shailesh Vaidya said: "Last year, Narendra Modi addressed our meeting and today he is the PM. Today, Uddhav is addressing us from the same podium, so he will become the next CM."
Thackeray also said if voted to power, Sena would relocate the 225-acre Mahalaxmi racecourse to somewhere outside Mumbai and the place would be converted into a public park. "Why should a handful of people alone have access to a prime chunk of land in the heart of the city?" Thackeray asked. He also made it clear that the coastal road would be top priority, but assured that Koliwadas or fishing villages would not be affected.
He said most of Mumbai's landmarks were built by the British. "What have we built? We should build landmarks that would be remembered. Mumbai contributes 40% of the central exchequer. What does it get in return?" he asked.
If Sena formed the govt, it would set up virtual classrooms across the state, he said. "In the BMC, we have already set up an interactive virtual facility linking 400 classrooms. This project will be implemented in a larger scale so that children can get quality education. It'll be possible for someone studying in a remote corner of Maharashtra to get a Mumbai University degree," he said.