There was uproar in the Maharashtra assembly today after the opposition, citing a media report, accused the government of reducing the height of the proposed statue of Maratha king Shivaji in the Arabian sea to save money, an accusation denied by Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis.
The opposition led by Congress leader and former chief minister Prithviraj Chavan said the government has "time and again" reduced the height of the statue even as it claimed it would be the tallest structure in the world.
BJP's Atul Bhatkhalkar objected to Mr Chavan raising "any random" issue keeping aside the agenda of the business of the house.
After four adjournments in the house, the Shiv Sena lashed out at Mr Bhatkhalkar, saying any issue relating to the Maratha warrior was of supreme importance to the state and sought an apology from him to the people of Maharashtra.
Mr Bhatkhalkar said he was criticising Mr Chavan and not king Shivaji. The lower house also saw fiery exchanges between BJP's Yogesh Sagar and Shiv Sena's Sanjay Shirsat over the issue of seeking apology from Mr Bhatkhalkar.
The Congress's Abdul Sattar tried to run away with the speaker's mace, but was stopped by marshals.
Mr Chavan said, "This (statue of Shivaji) is an issue which is very close to people of the state. The government is, time and again, reducing the height of the statute. This is the last trick they have used to reduce expenses of the statue by reducing height."
Attacking Mr Bhatkhalkar for allegedly trivialising the "issue related to sentiments" of the people of the state, Mr Chavan said his party opposed the mentality which "had opposed coronation of King Shivaji". "We will not tolerate any changes in the height of the statue," he said.
Hitting back at the opposition, Mr Fadnavis accused the Congress-NCP combine of not doing anything "for Maharaj" during its 15-year rule in the state. "I got all the clearances, this government got all the clearances," he said.
The chief minister said the height of the statue has not been reduced and the government is ready to spend whatever amount it would take to build the structure. He, however, clarified the first design of the statue sent to the environment ministry was a "schematic" one to get clearance and not the "proposal".
Later, the consultants worked out a design in a way that the statue withstands the pressures of the gutsy sea wind and waves, he said.
"The height of the statue has not been reduced in any way. We will build a statue of our Shivaji Maharaj that will be tallest in the world," the chief minister said in the house.
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