The opposition alleges that the government is responsible for the current economic slow down in the country. Former chief minister Prithviraj Chavan spoke in an exclusive interview with Sakal Times's Pandurang Mhaske on this subject. Chavan alleged that the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is going for deliberate religious polarisation through the abolition of section 370 in Kashmir. He further claimed that there is a trade war between America and China as well as between America and Iran so the Indian government should look at the situation as an opportunity to go get into business deals to increase exports. Chavan alleged that instead of taking proper steps to strengthen the economy the government is hiding the facts about the economy and diverting public attention.
Q. Chief Minister Devendra Fadanvis claims that the state is in number one position in foreign investment and employment. What is your view on this?
A. The chief minister is not telling the truth to the people. The unemployment rate is highest in the last 45 years, this is NSO's report. The union government rejected the report in February this year - before Parliament election and the same report was accepted in May- after the election got over. In Mudra scheme, only 20 per cent of the beneficiaries could start their business. Under the scheme, the beneficiary got a loan that is not enough to pay the salaries of their employees. The government is not making the NSO's report public. The auto industry is in a problem. App-based services reduced their employees, one company recently expelled 600 employees. Cotton industry published an advertisement in various newspapers explaining the slow down in their industry due to the government policy. Tea Producers Association also published the same thing. Sell of all FMCG products has gone down by 30 to 35 per cent in rural areas. Where is employment under the Make in Maharashtra, Magnetic Maharashtra programme? The government is giving the figures of foreign investment under these schemes.
Q. What are the solutions according to you?
A. The government has to rationalise Goods and Service Tax (GST). There is trade war in between China and USA and Iran and USA, the government should take benefit of this. This is an opportunity for India as we have all the resources to acquire the global market.
Q. Did you suggest the government about this?
A. As an opposition leader, we do always make suggestions to the government. This our right. But the union government and the state government is not listening to others. Many experts went away from them because they do not listen to their advice. Every day the government is changing the GST rate only keeping the elections in mind. Businessman and industrialist are scared and are not willing to come forward to speak about this. The government can not rule in this way.
Q. Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis has started his political campaign by starting 'Majajanadesh Yatra' for the upcoming assembly polls in the state. Do you think it will help them?
A. The government has failed in many fronts and they are trying to appeal to the emotions of the people. While talking about section 370, they are not talking about Nagaland issue. Through their rallies, they want to achieve religious polarisation, which will help them in the election. There are many issues like unemployment, industrial shut down, foreign investments, to divert the people from real issues they are organising such yatras.
Q. What is your opinion regarding the performance of the state government?
A. The government has failed in the last five years. We tried to highlight the failure of the government through 'Halla Bol Yatra'. During the Congress regime, our government helped farmers by giving them Rs 50 thousand crores, while this government distributed only Rs 20 thousand crores. Market rates of agricultural products are lower than the assured support price. All these highlights the complete failure of the policies and the government have to purchase food grains from the farmers.
Q. What are the issues you are planning to raise while approaching voters in the state?
A. There are many issues like farmers loan waiver, pothole-free roads, drinking water for all. The government announced many schemes but what is the final output. What happened with Jalayukt Shivir and loan waiver?
Q. Recently, many leaders from Congress and the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) are joining the Bharatiya Janata Party. What is your comment on this?
A. There is fear in all sections of politics also there is fear among the opposition leaders. We can not stop the leakage, but the voters have to rethink over it. If the person accused with corruption charges and he is joining the BJP, the people have to decide whether to elect or reject him.
Q. What message do you have for the voters who are voting this time?
A. The people have to think about mob lynching, fear of the government and then vote. The BJP is asking votes on treat, but the people have to teach them that votes can not be asked under fear. The election should be based on thoughts, so our appeal to the voters is vote according to your thoughts and ideology.