My government can’t be called anti-farmer, says Maharashtra CM Devendra Fadnavis
He talks to HT on New Year’s about his government’s top priorities, the challenges they faced and the hurdles they conqueredmumbai Updated: Jan 01, 2018 09:32 IST
On New Year’s Eve, chief minister Devendra Fadnavis told HT that this year his government’s top priority will be to deliver promises by completing projects wherein work had started or which had received all sanctions.
“We don’t just show dreams, we can also perform,” said Fadnavis. It’s a tall task for the government given that a slew of infra projects worth over Rs1 lakh crore are underway just in Mumbai. In rural Maharashtra, a more difficult task of completing irrigation projects, making villages drought free, is on the cards.
Here are few excerpts from the interview:
2017 started off on a challenging note for the BJP-led government with the ongoing Maratha protests and a slew of local self government polls. By mid-year the tide had clearly turned in your favour with the protests running out of steam and BJP winning a majority of polls. How do you look back at 2017 and what has been your biggest achievement and biggest challenge?
Yes, but, I personally feel that every day is a new challenge and an opportunity. When I look back at 2017, nearly 80% successful implementation of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Shetkari Sanman Yojana (the farm loan waiver) itself is really a great achievement. I am confident and looking at the pace of the process, we will certainly complete the rest of 20% implementation of the historic and most transparent loan waiver in the next few days.When it comes to Maratha agitation, we always took a positive approach. Discussions were held with each segment of the society. Many decisions were taken for the welfare of Maratha community. We framed Chhatrapati Shahu Maharaj scholarship scheme and included 605 courses and gave funds to Annasaheb Patil Arthik Vikas Mahamandal, Rs5 crore to each district for hostel facilities. A cabinet subcommittee was set up to discuss and address issues time to time. We are extremely positive on the demand of reservation: backward class commission was appointed and requested to speed up work.
The agrarian crisis has troubled your government for the three years that you have been in power. Your government responded to the farmers’ strike by finally agreeing to a loan waiver but the implementation has been challenging. Do you worry that your government is being perceived as anti-farmer?
First of all, let me clear, I never said that we are against loan waiver. The question was only about the timing. Since the beginning, we were saying that loan waiver will be announced at an appropriate time. The first two years, we concentrated on investment in the agrarian sector. With Jalyukta Shiva policy, now people are feeling the change. The number of tanker-free villages has come down from 6,000 to 400, nearly 4.25 lakh water works have been completed in 11,494 villages, additional 22 lakh hectares of irrigation potential has been created. We have given electricity connections to more than 1.40 lakh agri pumps in Vidarbha and Marathwada regions. With these and many other measures, we have been able to achieve 12.5% growth rate in agriculture sector.
In no way this government can be dubbed as anti-farmer, in fact only during the tenure of this government many pro-farmer decisions have been taken, be it market opportunities or assured prices to agri produce. Some of the food grains were purchased by the state government first time in the history. I can only say that happiness of farmers is to be judged by the feel in villages and not by the politically influenced agitations. In the earlier question you correctly mentioned about our electoral success in local body elections, that shows the growing faith of citizens on our program, project and policies and the leadership of PM Narendra Modi.
But, we are still of the opinion that alone loan waiver cannot stop the agrarian crisis. It needs continued efforts for completion of pending irrigation projects and electricity to use water for farms. I am also happy that in the year 2017 we got sanctions from the Centre of Rs20,000 crore to complete pending irrigation projects in drought prone areas.
What will be your three big priorities in 2018? You have said earlier that there is a lot that remains to be done before your tenure gets over.
My single most priority for the remaining two years is to complete all the projects for which either work has already started or all sanctions have been received. Making all 24,000 villages water neutral, completing all irrigation projects, providing housing to all and completing all the infrastructure projects will make visible difference. We want to show that the government can perform on the delivery front too instead of just showing dreams to people as the earlier government did for 15 years.
Will BJP-Sena continue to be allies at the end of December 2018? Or will we see a grouping of disparate elements, groups and parties who will pose a challenge to the BJP?
As far as BJP is concerned we respect the mandate given by people and the mandate is for alliance. So no question of separation in our mind, but in politics, every party has the right to increase its strength. Looking at the pace of development and our commitment for people’s cause, I don’t see any challenge to my government.