Mumbai, Jan 12 (IANS) The opposition in Maharashtra — the Congress and the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) — on Friday took strong umbrage to Union Shipping Minister Nitin Gadkari’s statements on Thursday, saying he "wants to help Pakistan" by throwing out the Indian Navy from Mumbai.
"Gadkari says that the Indian Navy will not be given even ‘an inch of land’ in Mumbai, they should go to Pakistan and China borders and why they are needed in Mumbai… This is an insult to the Indian Navy and he must apologise for it," state Congress General Secretary and spokesperson Sachin Sawant said here.
Questioning the minister’s motives behind the "attack" on the Indian Navy, Sawant asked "why is he so much interested and pushing for the a private jetty and floatel" when the security of Mumbai is at stake.
"This needs to be investigated as it proves that the Bharatiya Janata Party’s nationalism is fickle and does not apply to private businessmen. Power has gone to their heads… that’s why they keep making such statements at regular intervals," Sawant said.
Referring to security, he pointed out that after the 26/11 Mumbai terror strikes, in 2008, the coastal city’s security aspects need even greater attention since as the country’s commercial capital, it is targeted by Pakistani terrorists.
"The 26/11 strikes were carried out by Pakistani terrorists who came by the Arabian Sea route and Mumbai needs the security of the Indian Navy. The naval officers’ morale has been hit by use of such language by a Union Cabinet Minister. Is he trying to help Pakistan by throwing Indian Navy out of Mumbai?" Sawant asked.
NCP leader Jitendra Awhad wondered whether the Indian Navy was demanding "Gadkari’s ancestral property" that he (Gadkari) should insult the seafighting force in such a manner.
"Gadkari finds Baba Ramdev more important than the Indian Navy… so he publicly insults the Indian Navy. The country will never forget this and we demand an apology," Awhad said.
He pointed out how if it had been any other party, they would have been targeted by the "paid trolls" but just because it is Gadkari, "not a word" against him.
Sawant and Awhad said the people of the country are extremely proud of the Indian Navy and Gadkari must tender an apology for his assertions.
The Congress-NCP’s sharp reactions came in response to the unprecedented "attack" on the Indian Navy by Gadkari who accused it of creating "obstacles" in the development projects in Mumbai, including opposing plans for a floating jetty at Nariman Point.
Gadkari’s statements came during the foundation stone laying ceremony of the Rs 300-crore international cruise terminal in Mumbai on Thursday in the presence of Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, Western Naval Command chief Vice-Admiral Girish Luthra, top civil, maritime and defence officials.