Why did PM Modi remind Uddhav Thackeray about the Mumbai–Ahmedabad bullet train? 

Radheshyam Jadhav | Updated on: Feb 19, 2022
A file photo of Prime Minister Narendra Modi with Maharashtra CM Uddhav Thackeray

A file photo of Prime Minister Narendra Modi with Maharashtra CM Uddhav Thackeray | Photo Credit: VIVEK BENDRE

Despite Maharashtra’s opposition to the Mumbai-Ahmedabad bullet train, PM Narendra Modi has sent a strong message to Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray ahead of Mumbai civic elections.

“Ahmadabad-Mumbai High-Speed Rail is country’s need and it will strengthen Mumbai’s identity as a ‘city of dreams’. Completing this project rapidly is our priority,” Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Friday while dedicating to the nation two additional railway lines connecting Thane and Diva via video conferencing. CM Uddhav Thackeray also joined the programme online.

The work on the Mumbai–Ahmedabad bullet train, which is one of the dream projects of PM Modi, has come to a halt in Maharashtra after the Shiv Sena, left an alliance with the BJP, and formed the government with the Congress and Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) after the 2019 assembly elections.

Of the total length of the project, 155.76 km is in Maharashtra, 348.04 km in Gujarat and 4.3 km in Dadra and Nagar Haveli.

When Thackeray took charge as Chief Minister in 2019 he announced that the bullet train project was not on the priority list of the State government. He also likened the train project to a ‘white elephant’. He insisted that the State government would prioritise the Mumbai-Nagpur bullet train project instead of Mumbai–Ahmedabad line.

Eye on Mumbai civic polls

Ahead of Mumbai civic elections, PM Modi has once again raised the bullet train issue. Recalling the contribution of Mumbai in the progress of independent India, the Prime Minister said that now the effort is to increase Mumbai’s capability manifold with regard to its contribution for Aatmnirbhar Bharat. “That is why our special focus is on creating 21st century infrastructure for Mumbai”, he said said. 

Funded by a soft loan from Japan, the ₹1-trillion Mumbai-Ahmedabad project is on the top priority list of the Union government, and the State BJP is set to raise this as an election issue.

The BJP is launching a full-fledged attack on Shiv Sena which has controlled the Mumbai civic body for over two decades. Mumbai’s infrastructure is in bad shape, the party’s leaders allege. The bullet train issue has gained momentum after PM Modi reiterated that he wants to complete the project. BJP leaders in Mumbai are confident that they could derail Sena’s smooth track in Mumbai with help of the bullet train.

Published on February 19, 2022
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