‘Maharashtra in Turmoil: Sena (UBT) and BJP Engage in Heated Exchange over International Trips’

Shiv Sena (UBT) leader Aaditya Thackeray launched a scathing attack on the Eknath Shinde-led Maharashtra government, criticizing them for planning foreign trips at the expense of taxpayers’ money. Thackeray also raised questions about the wagh nakh (a knuckle duster with metal nails resembling tiger claws) of Maratha warrior king Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj, which is being brought to the state from London’s Victoria and Albert Museum.

Thackeray questioned where the wagh nakh would be displayed and whether it would remain permanently or if it was on loan. He also raised curiosity about its origin and whether it was from the era of the legendary warrior king, who is said to have used the weapon to kill Afzal Khan, a general of the Bijapur Sultanate, in 1659.

State Culture Minister Sudhir Mungantiwar and officials from his department are scheduled to visit the United Kingdom on October 3 to sign a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the Victoria and Albert Museum authorities, allowing the weapon to be loaned to Maharashtra for three years. The state government plans to bring the wagh nakh by November and display it in four museums, including the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya in Mumbai, the Shri Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Museum in Satara, the Central Museum in Nagpur, and Lakshmi Vilas Palace in Kolhapur.

Previously, the state government had planned to bring the ceremonial sword of Shivaji Maharaj, known as jagdamba, to commemorate the 350th anniversary of the Maratha ruler’s ascension to the throne. This sword, adorned with diamonds and rubies, was presented to Albert Edward, then Prince of Wales and later King Edward VII, by Shivaji IV during his visit to India in 1875-76. It is currently on display at Saint James’s Palace in London.

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While criticizing the Shinde government for their foreign trips, Thackeray also questioned the preparatory visit of Industries Minister Uday Samant to Davos in Switzerland, four months prior to the World Economic Forum (WEF). He also criticized the foreign study tour led by Deputy Chairperson of the Legislative Council Neelam Gorhe, stating that money was being wasted while farmers were suffering. Thackeray’s highlighting of the misuse of taxpayers’ money on foreign visits without clear agendas led to the cancellation of planned trips by Shinde and Assembly Speaker Rahul Narwekar. Shinde cancelled his trips to the United Kingdom and Germany, while Narwekar was supposed to attend the 66th Commonwealth Parliamentary Conference (CPC) in Ghana.

Thackeray also criticized the delay in addressing disqualification petitions against Shiv Sena MLAs, including Shinde, and called for accountability. He questioned the expenses of Deputy Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis’ visit to Japan, claiming that it was paid for by the Maharashtra Industrial Development Corporation (MIDC) and demanded a detailed report.

In response, Mumbai BJP chief Ashish Shelar defended Fadnavis’ visit, stating that Japan covered the expenses. Shelar criticized Thackeray for his remarks, stating that he should not overstep boundaries due to “immaturity.” Shelar pointed out that the investments resulting from Fadnavis’ visit are available on his social media posts and added a remark about Thackeray’s past foreign trips during his father’s illness.

Thackeray, in turn, shared a Government Resolution stating that the entire expenditure on travel and accommodation for the delegation would be borne by MIDC, Mumbai, implying that the MIDC paid for Fadnavis’ Japan tour expenses. Thackeray emphasized the need for transparency and accountability in government expenditure.

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