Tuesday, 17 June 2008

Mete removed from NCP: Ketkar attack issue

Shivsangram Sanghatana founder Vinayak Mete was on June 14 relieved of the post of Vice President of Maharashtra unit of the Nationalist Congress Party in connection with the attack on Loksatta Editor Kumar Ketkar's residence on June five.

Although Mete is not formally involved in the Sanghatana any more, his hold over the pro-Maratha aggressive organisation is an open secret. He did not disown the Shivsangram activists who vandalised Ketkar's residence in Thane. The activists were angered by the sarcastic tone of Ketkar's article on the state government's plan to set up Chhatrapati Shivaji's statue in the Arabian sea of Mumbai coast.

State NCP chief Arun Gujrathi who announced Mete's removal from the post said in Mumbai that the issue was referred to the party's disciplinary panel.

The party leadership was embarrassed by the incident that drew flak from journalists of print and electronic media, citizens' groups, NGOs, and media organisations who termed it as an attack on freedom of the press.
About a dozen workers of the organisation have been arrested so far. Mete and
Sanghatana's president Tanaji Shinde had sought anticipatory bail in the Bombay High Court which rejected their plea.

In the meanwhile, Ketkar's stand against the plan for the statue, received support from unexpected quarters and for different reasons, from Maharashtra Navnirman Sena chief Raj Thackeray. A statue in the Arabian Sea, whether it is of the Chhatrapati or of Indira Gandhi, is an ill-conceived idea, he said in Mumbai on Saturday.

He felt that such a statue would not be technically feasible. Construction of the monument would damage the ecological balance and marine life. "There are plans to have a museum, a cafetaria and an amphitheatre on 7.5 acres. This will ruin Mumbai’s coastline," he said.

He questioned the government's estimate of Rs 200 crore project cost, which he said would need between Rs 4,000 crore and Rs 5,500 crore.
He would not liken the proposed monument to the Statue of Liberty of USA as it was built on an island not in the ocean.

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