BJP govt lost several opportunities in past three years: Prithviraj Chavan
Despite Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) failing to get a clear mandate in the State in the assembly elections held in 2014, the BJP emerged as the single largest party. Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis could have easily put the State on a new path of development, but the government wasted time in event management. It instead took a regressive path. To expose the true face of this government, the Congress will launch agitations against it. I appeal to the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) to join us in protest, said former chief minister Prithviraj Chavan while talking to Sakal Times on the eve of the third anniversary of the BJP government in the State. Excerpts from the special interview.
Q: You are saying the Fadnavis government lost opportunities to put the State on a development path. What exactly do you want to say?
After 1990, no party has got a clear mandate in the State. In 2014, the BJP got the opportunity to emerge as the single largest party, though it was away from the magical figure to have an absolute majority. With that mandate, the BJP did not have to bow to pressure tactics of alliance partners to appoint a deputy chief minister or distribute key portfolios.
They were free to take their own decisions benefiting the State, which otherwise would have been stuck in the coalition politics. They had this golden opportunity to fulfil the promises made during the elections. A few ministers in the government were inexperienced but they should have speeded up over these years. This did not happen. After completion of three years, the performance of the government is upsetting. I am not criticising the government for the sake of it.
Q: What do you think would be the reasons behind this?
Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis has copied Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s style. He started wasting time in suppressing the opposition and filing false complaints against the opposition members. Then, the downfall of the government started.
Q: But BJP won majority of the elections that took place in the State after coming to power. How can you say the downfall of the government has started?
The State government has faired poorly in areas concerning farming, finance, investment, employment generation, civic amenities and social security. Let’s talk about farming. There has been a rise in the number of farmers’ suicides in the last three years. Even the farmers, who are financially better off, are committing suicide. Since the beginning, Fadnavis has been against the farm loan waiver as he is of the opinion that banks under the Congress-NCP rule would benefit through the loan waiver. The Uttar Pradesh government, while going to the state assembly polls had assured a loan waiver to farmers. Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath immediately sanctioned the loan waiver to farmers after coming to power. Here in Maharashtra, we organised a statewide march (Sangharsh Yatra) demanding the farm loan waiver. There was unrest among the farmers in Madhya Pradesh. The unrest resulted in police firing on the farmers. Later, Chandrakant Patil declared a loan waiver just to highlight that the Modi government was not against the farmers. Fadnavis then insisted that applications for loan waiver should be filed online. The application had some 66 questions. People started demanding money to help farmers fill the form. Servers were not working.
Loan waiver was given to farmers the way prizes are given to schoolchildren. Our farmers are not beggars. But this government made an event out of the entire issue. The Swaminathan Commission’s recommendations have not been implemented.
Now, talk about industries. On the lines of ‘Make in India’, Fadnavis launched ‘Make in Maharashtra’. He announced that there would be investments worth crores, which would generate 30 lakh jobs. How many jobs were generated? We started Mihan project, but except Ramdev Baba’s Patanjali, no other project came up there.
The Foxconn project was supposed to come up, but the assembling unit of Apple started in Bengaluru. Nearly 3,100 hectares of land was available for industries, but the industry ministry sold it for personal purpose while senior minister Eknath Khadse was made a scapegoat.
Now, an inquiry into the sale of 3,100 hectares is on. We faced load shedding during Diwali. Work on the Delhi-Mumbai corridor has stopped. Work didn’t start at the industrial hub of Shendra near Aurangabad. Khandesh and Konkan were not even considered for any development work. I am sure Maharashtra will lose the top position in industrial investments. There are talks of 30% reduction in the State budget but no one will understand when this 30% will further fall to 50%. However, crores of rupees are being spent on Bullet Train. What is the status of the coastal road and trans harbour link? The government has many corrupt ministers. Prakash Mehta is involved in a scam of a housing project. Earlier, the chief minister gave a clean chit to him. Now, he has initiated a probe into the matter. We took a decision regarding the Maratha reservations but this government is mum over it. It protects corrupt officials. They are talking of smart cities, but in reality, it is providing protection for unauthorised constructions. On the education front, too, the graph is going downwards. They are implementing the RSS agenda, which is horrible.
Q: Why is the opposition not raising its voice against the ruling government? There are no public agitations.
Although, the government is trying to suppress our voice on false complaints, we launched agitations against it. We will intensify these agitations in the future. The Congress will take the lead. We will hold meetings to help distressed farmers. We will uncover the real face of this government. I hope the NCP will join us too. Our voice in the assembly will now get louder.