11 firms paid Sena 500cr for Jaitapur protests: Rane

MUMBAI: The power politics surrounding the Jaitapur controversy took a dramatic turn on Thursday with state industries minister Narayan Rane accusing the Shiv Sena of opposing the 9,900MW nuclear power project at the behest of 11 corporate houses.”We have information that 11 corporate houses offered Rs 500 crore to a political party to scuttle the Jaitapur project in the Konkan region,” Rane said in the state legislative assembly. “The party in question is none other than the Shiv Sena,” he added.Rane said several corporate houses had business interests in the power sector and were resentful of the proposed nuclear power project at Jaitapur.

He made the statement while replying to the customary last-week motion moved by opposition leader Eknath Khadse of the BJP, the Sena’s ally. Launching a scathing attack on the saffron party that was his political launch pad, Rane said, “The Sena had initially planned a rally in Ratnagiri on April 3. However, the date for the rally against the nuclear project was postponed to April 9 following a delay in the payment of money.”He said these corporate houses feared that they would have to lower tariffs on electricity produced by them if the Jaitapur project becomes a reality. “To stop the Jaitapur project, these corporate houses got in touch with the Shiv Sena,” he alleged in the House.

In an apparent reference to Sena executive president Uddhav Thackeray’s reported trip to the Kanha national park earlier this week, when the anti-nuclear stir peaked and a fisherman was killed in police firing at Sakhri Nate, Rane said, “Sena leaders went on a vacation after receiving the advance money from the business czars.” Wondering if the Sena’s motive was to safeguard the interests of the nation or further its own ends, the former CM said, “Those who live in glass houses should not throw stones at others.”Sena leader Subhash Desai took strong objection to Rane’s charges. “If it’s proved that we have taken money, we are ready to face punishment,” Desai said and urged Speaker Dilip Walse-Patil to expunge Rane’s statements from the records of the House. – TOI