‘Can win on our own but will honour pact with Sena’: CM Devendra Fadnavis
On the Mahajanadesh yatra in the poll run-up, CM Devendra Fadnavis told Hindustan Times in an interview that the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) would stick to its deal with the Shiv Sena though it could have come to power on its own in the state.Updated: Aug 04, 2019, 10:27 IST
For chief minister Devendra Fadnavis, tackling drought will be a top priority if he returns to power in Maharashtra in the year-end Assembly elections. On the Mahajanadesh yatra in the poll run-up, he told Hindustan Times in an interview that the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) would stick to its deal with the Shiv Sena though it could have come to power on its own in the state. Edited excerpts:
Q. What is the vision document of the Fadnavis government 2.0, if you come back to power in the Assembly polls?
The biggest challenge for us in Maharashtra is drought. Drought has become a grim reality. In the last six years, we have faced drought or scarcity in five years. If we can bring surplus water that goes waste to our deficit river basins, we can free Maharashtra from drought. That will be our plan.
So, part of this plan is to bring in nearly 167 TMC of water, which flows into the sea from Konkan to Godavari basin, and free parts of urban Maharashtra, Marathwada from scarcity. In the case of Wainganga water, which flows to Telangana, we have 100 TMC of our water share that we plan to bring to eastern and western Vidarbha through 480 km of tunnels. We also plan to get our share of water from Madhya Pradesh through a mega recharge into the Tapi river basin.
So, there’s going to be mega investment in water in the next five years. My rough estimates say this investment will be to the tune of Rs 50,000 crore to Rs 75,000 crore. It may seem huge but I am not daunted by it...Watch: Devendra Fadnavis interview I ‘BJP-Sena will contest Maha polls together’
Q. So, the focus in the next five years will be on rural areas?
Yes, we will have to do this. In Maharashtra’s cities, we have worked quite a bit in the last five years, we have done big investments in transport, sewerage, infrastructure... We have also invested in rural infrastructure, like we have built nearly 30,000 km of roads in rural areas, we have brought water to 18,000 villages. We have to now take the next step.
Q. Maharashtra has 4 million-5 million unemployed youth. How do plan to tackle this?
I won’t say Maharashtra doesn’t have unemployment, but I think it is more a problem of under-employment. Despite this, we have generated 25% of the total employment opportunities in the country even though we account for only 9.5% of the population. Beyond manufacturing and boost to small and medium-scale enterprises, we are also stressing on the service sector.
Q. You have said the BJP-Sena will contest together. But a section in your party feels it will be better if the BJP contests on its own after the sweeping Lok Sabha mandate...
We finalised a deal before the Lok Sabha polls that we will contest together. It is true that in the name of [Prime Minister Narendra] Modiji, everyone wants to vote for us. But we cannot change friends every day or change rules of engagement or break our alliances. We could have won on our own but we plan to stick to the decision to contest together. Sometimes, one has to look at the bigger picture. In Maharashtra, we will definitely not win less seats, we will do better than last time. I can say confidently that the BJP’s win will be unprecedented.
Q. What is the seat-sharing formula with the Sena?
We will share seats equally after keeping some seats aside for our smaller allies. For instance, if we keep aside 38 seats for our smaller allies, the remaining 250 seats will be shared equally between the two of us. In this, we will keep the seats we have won and vice-versa. Some seats we may swap. The seat-sharing agreement will be announced by the end of this month.
Q. One of your ministers, Girish Mahajan, said as many as 50 Congress-Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leaders are in talks with the BJP. How many of your candidates will be from the Opposition?
What Girish Mahajan said is true. A majority of Opposition leaders want to join us. However, we don’t have that many vacancies, our policy is not to take all. We will take a few who are good.
Q. Sena youth leader Aaditya Thackeray is also on a yatra across the state. His party has projected him as a CM candidate. Your comment?
Aaditya is an upcoming youth leader. He understands issues, is keen to work and is touring the state. It’s a good thing. We need a new leadership in the state. I see this positively. As far as CM candidate goes, that is his party’s prerogative.
Q. Sena leaders have repeatedly said the deal between the BJP-Sena entails equal sharing of posts, including that of CM...
I have said what I had to at the press conference when we announced the deal ahead of the Lok Sabha polls. You can read in between the lines... As far as who will be the CM, I am sitting right here in front of you. We had offered deputy CM post to the Shiv Sena… but they did not take up the offer.
Q. State BJP chief Chandrakant Patil recently said if he is given the CM’s post, he will not leave it. So, there is speculation that post polls you may go to Delhi.
Chandrakantdada is a party worker at heart. If you ask any of our hardcore workers, s/he will say that I’ll do any job that my party entrusts me. So, dada answered in this vein. He also probably doesn’t get the googly questions reporters throw at him at times.
And, I have already said I am going to come back after the Assembly polls. One can’t predict anything in politics but I don’t see a huge problem in completing another term.
Q. There has been a perception of an ongoing turf war between NCP chief Sharad Pawar and yourself…
I don’t really fight or compete with anyone. I am not even a political person. There had been a consistent attempt in the last five years to create negativity through various agitations. That challenge was more from the NCP than the Congress… It’s an irony that the person who… was known for splitting parties, hijacking someone’s election, engaging in political conspiracies etc is now accusing us of the same.