Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, who has set a new vision for the state to become a trillion-dollar economy, asserts that though driven by big-ticket infrastructure projects, it will be an inclusive growth. Fadnavis, who completed four years in office this week, is confident that his government’s achievements in various sectors like agriculture, water and infrastructure, will win a repeat mandate for the BJP in the state.
In an interview to Abhijit Mulye, he also denied reports of strained ties with the Shiv Sena and claimed the Sena has no option but to ally with the BJP again.
Maharashtra becoming a trillion-dollar economy is your vision for the state. Where is the plan for inclusion of all in this growth story?
We have started working on several projects kept in the cold storage for 15-20 years. There are several new projects such as the bullet train. These projects will prove to be the growth engines. Industries don’t come up in a vacuum. They need physical and social infrastructure to be in place and then they come up, leading to the creation of more jobs in a variety of service industries or ancillary industries. The state has been able to attract 49 per cent of the foreign direct investment that came to India in the past three years and has created 45.57 lakh jobs in the same period.
Also, the government has spent more on public amenities, agriculture, education, irrigation, housing, toilets, security, law and order etc. All these things ultimately make life easy for people and lead to prosperity. Isn’t that inclusive growth?
But, the people don’t seem to be fully convinced about the achievements of your government.
The Opposition is vitriolic. The Opposition is desperate, which is why they have resorted to lying… We started using the social, they are now misusing it. The misuse is rampant. But, people have lost faith in them due to their all-round failure which is getting highlighted every day. We have won majority of the elections at all levels in the past four years.
We see this as a reaffirmation of the mandate given to us by the people. We have implemented schemes for all sections of society with complete integrity and I feel that work shall fetch us a repeat and improved mandate.
What are the major projects that you expect to be ready before next elections?
Most of the projects related to transportation in and around Mumbai have been delayed by over two decades. But now, they all, including the Navi Mumbai International Airport, are on target. Deadlines have already been announced. Our priority this year would be to complete the projects.
There might be minor delays, but the projects won’t be stalled henceforth. The delivery of metro corridors will begin in 2019 and will be complete by 2022. The work on (Mumbai-Nagpur) Samruddhi Corridor has already begun. Issues related to land acquisition have been resolved, the funds have arrived and work will take place soon.
The flagship programme of your government, JalYukt Shivar, has come under sharp attack from experts. What do you think are the reasons for its failure?
It would be wrong to say that the programme has failed. On the contrary, the agro production figures show that productivity has increased despite a decrease in rainfall. The success needs to be attributed to the scheme as it has ensured the necessary moisture level.
Moreover, the recent criticism is about a drop in groundwater level. The fact is, this year agriculture pumps have reported 27 per cent higher water-drawing even though we had only 77 per cent rainfall. Also, not all villages experiencing depletion in groundwater are covered under the scheme yet. The scheme has actually resulted in a rise in groundwater levels by about 4 metres.
Your allies and opposition have been demanding a list of beneficiaries of mega schemes like the crop loan waiver.
We have already furnished a list of over 30 lakh farmers whose loans have been waived off under the scheme during the monsoon session earlier this year. In the next Assembly session, we’ll furnish a list of additional 17 lakh farmers. We will keep updating the list. We are completely transparent on such issues. We have waived off loans of up to Rs 1.5 lakh and the total amount disbursed so far comes to around Rs 21,500 crore. This is historic in terms of sheer numbers and the pace of implementation. Also, we have ensured that people’s representatives and big farmers are kept out of this and it goes to the real needy.
Social unrest at several levels has kept Maharashtra boiling for almost two years. Questions are also being raised over law and order. Some elements are deliberately trying to pitch different sections of society against each other. We are tackling such issues on multiple levels. Firstly, we are doing away with the inadequacies and resolving the genuine issues.
With the affirmative action, we ually. On the other hand, we are acting tough against the people who are trying to create unrest. Recently, some arrests were made. The issue is not just about expression against the government. The police have unearthed plans to incite hatred, overturn the government and eliminate people. The police have placed the evidence before the courts, which is why the courts have not stopped their (police’s) action. The law and order apparatus is certainly in better condition. We have had several reforms and the conviction rate has gone up.
When was the last you spoke to Uddhav Thackeray?
We keep talking to each other on several subjects. I must have spoken to him about a couple of days back. The “strained relations” is the media perception. It is not at all reflected in the government. All our Cabinet decisions are unanimous. Whenever there are differences, we try to come to a common ground through discussions and consultations.
Is Nanar refinery project such a major issue? Why is the Shiv Sena vehemently opposed to it?
Yes. Currently, we are not pursuing the subject, though I’m of opinion that the West Coast Refinery Project needs to come to the state. I’m confident that I would be able to convey my side across to all those who are currently opposing the project.
Do you see the Shiv Sena coming along with the BJP even in the next elections?
Yes. Hindutva is the common bond between us and with their renewed resolve for the Ram Mandir at Ayodhya, they have reduced the possibilities of having anybody else as their ally and contesting separately while the Congress-NCP are together. It will harm the Shiv Sena more than the BJP. This political reality would bring us together again.