MVA: Devendra Fadnavis’s ₹28,000-cr aid figure imaginary
Putting up a united front, ministers of the Maharashtra Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government on Wednesday punctured holes into the claims made by Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader and former chief minister Devendra Fadnavis, terming the ₹28,000-crore Central aid mentioned by him an “imaginary figure”.
Leader of Opposition Fadnavis had on Tuesday attacked the Uddhav Thackeray-led government over claims that the Centre was biased against Maharashtra and had not given it enough assistance to tackle the pandemic.
Ministers from the three parties – Shiv Sena, Congress and Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) – addressed a joint conference to put to rest speculation of disagreements and lack of coordination in the ruling coalition.
On Wednesday morning, it was announced that state transport minister Anil Parab would address a press conference. However, Patil and Thorat joined the conference after a meeting of MVA ministers at Varsha bungalow. Patil clarified, “We [Thorat and Patil] were out of Mumbai, so our names were not announced till we were available.” Thorat said, “We are working together to combat the crisis today under the leadership of chief minister Uddhav Thackeray and deputy chief minister Ajit Pawar. Everybody is working in coordination and have taken measures for patients, migrants, industries etc.”
Shiv Sena’s Parab rebutted each point raised by Fadnavis and said that he had misled people by saying that the Centre is giving full support to the Maharashtra government. The minister said the state has only got ₹6,649 crore through various schemes from the Centre and not ₹28,000 crore as claimed by the former CM.
Parab said Maharashtra has not got wheat under the PM Gram Kalyan Yojana. “The decision to provide wheat, dal and rice was taken for the entire country, not just for Maharashtra. Fadnavis said that wheat worth ₹1,750 crore has been given to Maharashtra, but the state has not received wheat at all.”
He lashed out at Union railway minister Piyush Goyal saying the ministry sent trains at once to paint a picture that Maharashtra is unable to send back migrants. He added that the state spent money on all Shramik trains through the Chief Minister’s Relief Fund. “Goyal alleges the trains are sent back empty, but the railways has changed the train schedule to create confusion and just gave us a one-hour notice before the departure. Everything was going well, but a confusing situation is being created to defame the state government,” Parab said.
Patil said the Centre had not provided enough personal protective equipment (PPE) kits, N95 masks and gloves to the state. He also claimed the Centre had first claimed it would pay for it, but the state has spent from its funds. “We asked for 49 lakh masks, but received around 13 lakh; we asked for 17 lakh PPE kits, but till May 21, we got zero. We asked for 25 lakh gloves, but we received only 28,000. We got zero ventilators. We are not criticising the Centre, but Fadnavis should support the government, not criticise or destabilise it. The BJP is nowhere to be seen in the work we are doing and the state will remember it.”
Fadnavis responded to the press conference, in a live video, calling it “incomplete” information. “The food grain at ₹2 and ₹3 are part of the Central scheme, so how can they claim they have not got wheat. They claim that they have not govt PPE kits, but the Centre has a dashboard for it. As on May 26, 9.88 lakh PPE kits and 16 lakh N95 masks have been given. They said they are purchasing it, but they forgot to add that the Centre has given ₹486 crore for it,” he shot back.
Patil took a “strong objection” to Fadnavis’s statement that the economy would be hit as migrants have left for their home states. “He has underestimated the skill of people of Maharashtra. Does it also mean that he has no trust in PM Modi’s Skill India programme,” he said. In response, Fadnavis said that he was talking about skilled jobs and not unskilled labourers. “Jobs like diamond-cutting cannot be learnt in one day by any worker from any state,” he said.
Patil said the government has been successful in keeping the numbers lower than what the Central team had projected. He said that the situation in Maharashtra is way better than in Gujarat, which had a much higher death rate. Fadnavis slammed the government over this.
“The state has over 30% of the total cases, 40% of the total deaths, but the government is patting its own back instead of telling people what they would do to provide more hospital beds,” he said.