The top report for the day has come in from Panvel. The Chief Minister arrived for the birthday celebrations of a political party leader but ensured that the stage was used for the purpose of endorsing Navi Mumbai SEZ and Maha Mumbai SEZ at a time when the protest of farmers of the region at Belapur is still fresh in minds of the people. Chief Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh arrived at Panvel to grace the birthday celebrations of a party worker at Panvel. However, the CM ensured that the stage was used to send a message to farmers and win their vote for the SEZ in Navi Mumbai and Raigad. Addressing the large gathering of locals and party workers, which also included villages heads of several villages that will be affected by SEZs, all the dignitaries including the Chief Minister tried with their vote of confidence and send them messages that the opposition political parties were just taking advantage of the situation for personal benefits. Congress leader Ramsheth Thakur said that they were in support of the SEZs with a few riders of course. Chief Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh urged farmers to be a part of the progress and technological advancements by understanding the concepts of SEZs and joining hands with the state in endorsing them. His urge to farmers comes at a very crucial time, as it has not been even ten days to the violent protest of farmers at Belapur. Hundreds and thousands of farmers had gathered at Konkan Bhavan and protested that come what may; they will not give up their lands for SEZs. While the rally was politically lead, it did raise concerns for the Congress at the state level. To ensure that land acquisition in Navi Mumbai does not lead to a Nandigram like situation in Navi Mumbai, sources reveal that the CM’s visit was intended to get a first hand report about the ground level reaction of farmers at Raigad and to make them aware that they were being used as tools by the opposition. He however, accepted that at the end of the day, the outcome of the SEZs drama will be at the will of farmers. With cameraperson Ravi Nikam and Sujit Gaikwad, Rajeev Mishra for Navi Mumbai News.
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