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Tuesday, Dec 10, 2019

BJP MP from Karnataka hits ‘₹40,000-cr self-goal’; Devendra Fadnavis cries foul

mumbai Updated: Dec 03, 2019 00:26 IST
Ketaki Ghoge
Ketaki Ghoge

Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) Karnataka MP Anant Hegde’s bizarre theory over Devendra Fadnavis’s three-day stint as the chief minister ballooned into a controversy in Maharashtra on Monday. While the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) sought Prime Minister’s resignation over it, the Shiv Sena labelled it treachery, even as Fadnavis rebutted it.

Hegde claimed Fadnavis’s record tenure of just 80 hours was designed to “protect and return ₹40,000 crore” of Central funds parked in the state treasury to the Centre, “to prevent its misuse by the Sena-Congress-NCP government”. “I have not heard BJP MP Anant Hegde’s statement, but based on what has come out in the media, I completely deny this claim that Maharashtra returned ₹40,000 crore to the Centre. It’s a completely wrong statement,” said Fadnavis.

The five-term MP’s claim seems to have been based on a social media forward that has been doing rounds in the state, since the time Fadnavis was forced to resign after the Supreme Court called for a trust vote through an open ballot in Maharashtra.

The tenor of the forward was to reclaim moral high ground for the BJP’s desperate attempt at trying to install its own government by saying the Centre had parked ₹40,000 crore meant for the bullet train project with Maharashtra and Fadnavis was installed for a short period to send this money back.

Fadnavis refuted Hegde’s statement pointing out the state government’s role in the bullet train project was limited to land acquisition. The former chief minister also pointed that everyone who understood how funds move between the Centre and the states would realise the statement was baseless.

“Anyone who understands how the accounting systems of the Centre and state work will not make such statements. The state finance department can probe this. I think those who make such statements and those giving reactions to it are both in the wrong,” Fadnavis said.

“This is an attempt to cover up its shameless ploy to form the government. It is not possible to send back the money to Centre, if it has come in. If this has been done, then Prime Minister must resign. This is not just injustice to Maharashtra, but to all states. This fire will spread to other states,” said NCP’s Nawab Malik. Sena MP Sanjay Raut tweeted that this was “treachery against Maharashtra”.

Fadnavis had hoped to have a longer stint when he quietly took oath as the chief minister in a surprising turn of events on November 23, as its pre-poll ally Shiv Sena walked out on him over the chief minister’s chair. He had the support of NCP leader Ajit Pawar. But his new partner wasn’t able to get other NCP legislators to switch their loyalties.

Shiv Sena boss Uddhav Thackeray finally replaced him last week, in Maharashtra’s first-of-its kind partnership with the Nationalist Congress Party and the Congress.

The new government has decided to review projects cleared by the BJP-led government, including the bullet train project that had earlier faced stiff opposition by the Sena.

This isn’t the first time that Anant Hegde has embarrassed his party. Like when in 2017 he claimed that the BJP would amend the Constitution to exclude secularism from the preamble. That row had led to a major uproar in Parliament too.