Senior Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader Chhagan Bhujbal has accused former chief minister Prithviraj Chavan of providing files pertaining to controversies such as the irrigation 'scam' to opposition leaders.
In an interview to Hindustan Times, the former deputy chief minister alleged that Chavan had a one-point agenda – to write off the NCP in Maharashtra. He also criticised the Prime Minister, claiming that Narendra Modi had plans to shift several national institutions and establishments out of Maharashtra.
In the five-cornered fight, the NCP has been attacking former chief minister Prithviraj Chavan and vice-versa. Why is that so?
It’s because Prithviraj Chavan had a one-point agenda ever since took over as chief minister – writing off the NCP from Maharashtra. Chavan gave the files related to the alleged Maharashtra Sadan irregularities to (BJP leader) Kirit Somaiya. He used to sit with Somaiya for hours. Similarly, files related to the irrigation projects controversy were given to people with political agendas.
There was nothing fishy with regard to the irrigation projects or Maharashtra Sadan. I told Chavan to inspect all the files related to Maharashtra Sadan as he was in charge of the urban development department, which gave the floor space index (FSI) clearance to the project developer. The projects were implemented in accordance with the rules, but Chavan wanted to create suspicion about the NCP. The Congress had decided to finish off smaller allies who were with them at the Centre. What they did with the DMK in Tamil Nadu, they did with us in Maharashtra. The BJP has adopted a similar formula, first in Haryana and now with the Shiv Sena in Maharashtra.
But Chavan claims to be a leader with a clean image and prides himself on transparent governance...
If he is clean, why were scores of files cleared in the last few weeks (of his government)? The files were related to granting FSI to real estate projects. Where did the Congress get the money that’s being spent on so many advertisements? Their ad expenditure is 10 times more than the NCP. We had to stop radio advertisements due to limited budget. They should declare the source of money being spent on publicity.
Is it possible that the NCP and the Congress will re-unite, if needed, after the elections?
Do you think the parties led by the Thackeray cousins will join hands after the polls?
Yes, there is a possibility of the warring brothers coming together after the elections. They have been attacking the BJP and Narendra Modi, but not each other, as they were doing earlier.
Do you think the BJP and Shiv Sena will come together again, if needed, to form the government in Maharashtra?
I do not think so, as the bitterness between the two parties had gone beyond the limit. The BJP wanted to cut the Shiv Sena to size. It all started when the Sena was given only portfolio – an insignificant one too – while forming the Union government.
Don’t you think the Shiv Sena has more to lose after its alliance with the BJP ended? What would have been the scenario had Bal Thackeray been alive?
Uddhav Thackeray has emerged as a mature politician and his party will be the biggest gainer in the election. People have been claiming that the party will be ruined as Balasaheb is no more, but you will see the Shiv Sena performing better.
Had Balasaheb been alive, the BJP would not have dared treating the Shiv Sena the way it has of late. The BJP leaders would have been brought to their knees had been alive.
Prime Minister Modi has alleged that the situation in Maharashtra deteriorated during your 15-year rule….
We have documents to prove that Maharashtra is ahead of Gujarat on all fronts. About 80% of the country’s automobile industry is in Maharashtra. We have 200-500 students from Gujarat taking up higher education in Maharashtra colleges. Our roads are four times better than Gujarat roads. Same is the case with regard to health, sanitation and five-star hotels. Our gross domestic product (GDP) is also higher than Gujarat. I don’t Gujarat stands anywhere in comparison to Maharashtra.
In that case, why has your party been reacting strongly to Modi’s criticism?
I ask why Modi has been taking all the businesses to Gujarat, if it is already developed. Why is he conduction 24 political meetings (in Maharashtra)? Why did he not find the time to attend the late Gopinath Munde’s funeral?
He is prime minister of the country and expected to run the nation and not act like a hungry politician who wants to control a big state after having formed the government at the Centre. He has not been able to appoint a full-time defence minister, when the nation needs it the most in the view of the aggression by neighbouring countries. He has already shifted the coastal security training institution to Gujarat from Palghar for no reason. He has plans to shift the Nashik-based India Security Press elsewhere. This is an injustice to Maharashtra and people of the state will never tolerate this.