Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) president Sharad Pawar on Thursday said the Centre’s assurance to the Maharashtra government to give a bigger project to the state than the Vedanta-Foxconn semiconductor plant, was like “consoling a child” and added now that the unit has moved to Gujarat there was no point in the discussing the matter further.
He also took a dig at Vedanta, saying if the Indian mining firm proposes a project in Maharashtra, there was no surety that it will come up in the state.
The Uddhav Thackeray-led Shiv Sena, NCP and the Congress have sought to corner the Eknath Shinde-Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government following the announcement two days ago that the Rs 1.54 lakh crore semiconductor plant will be set up by a joint venture between Vedanta, an Indian oil-to-metals conglomerate, and Taiwanese electronics giant Foxconn in Gujarat. The plant was earlier supposed to be set up in Maharashtra.
Speaking to the reporters here, Mr Pawar took a dig at the Centre over Gujarat bagging the project and said Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah both control the reins of the country so it can be understood “if they give little more attention to their home state”.
The former Union minister insisted that since the project has already gone to the adjoining state, there was no point discussing the issue, when asked about his reaction on Maharashtra losing out on the Vedanta-Foxconn project.
He said the mega project was originally envisaged to come up at Talegaon near Pune city, which already has an automobile hub near Chakan. It would have been good for the company (Vedanta-Foxconn) had the plant come up at Talegaon.
With Gujarat bagging the multi-billion project, leaders of the opposition Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) and the state government are engaged in a war of words over the issue, blaming each other for Maharashtra not getting the plant.
Responding to Industries Minister Uday Samant’s announcement that the Prime Minister has assured Chief Minister Eknath Shinde of a better and bigger project than Vedanata-Foxcon for the state, Pawar said, “The statement that a bigger project will be given to Maharashtra was like consoling a child who is crying after seeing a balloon in another child’s hand and his parents consoling him that they will give him a bigger balloon.” The Rajya Sabha MP slammed Shinde and Samant for blaming the erstwhile Uddhav Thackeray-led government, of which the NCP was a constituent, for the state not getting the project.
“The irony here is that both Samant and Shinde were ministers in the Thackeray government,” the NCP president said.
He said the project was supposed to come to Maharashtra and discussions to that effect had already taken place.
“But some changes took place in the (plan) and now I do not see any solution. Some people are saying the decision should be changed and the project should be brought back to Maharashtra, but it is not going to happen. It (project going to Gujarat) should not have happened. This was a project of Maharashtra and it should not have gone out of the state, but now there was no point in discussing it,” he said.
Asked if the political leadership of Gujarat was more decisive than Maharashtra’s, Pawar said it is understandable if Modi and Shah give a little bit more attention to their home state.
“Modiji himself is there, Amit Shah is there and these are the people who control the reins of the country. So, it is obvious if they give a little bit more attention to Gujarat. If you see the tours of Modiji, where he goes frequently? If you see the records of the last two-three months, one thing will be clear – a person has an attachment with his home,” he said.
Mr Pawar said the Vedanta group is a part of the project and its chairman Anil Agarwal has every right to take a decision regarding its location.
“You people may not be knowing but a crucial project was supposed to come in Ratnagiri (in coastal Maharashtra) and the project was of the Vedanta group. But after sometime, protests took place and the project was immediately taken to Chennai. This is an old thing. So from Vedanta, this is not the first time, it has happened (earlier also). If a project from Vedanta is proposed to come (to Maharashtra), assurance cannot be given whether the project will really come or not,” he added.
Earlier, in a series of tweets, Mr Agarwal said the Vedanta-Foxconn JV had been professionally assessing site for the multi-billion dollar investment.
“This is a scientific and financial process which takes several years. We started this about 2 years ago,” the industrialist said.
They shortlisted Gujarat, Karnataka, Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu and had been engaging with each of these governments as well as central government and “have received fantastic support,” he said.
“We decided Gujarat few months ago as they met our expectations. But in July meeting with Maharashtra leadership, they made a huge effort to outbid other states with competitive offer. We have to start in one place and based on professional and independent advice we chose Gujarat,” the Vedanta chairman said.
The veteran politician said industrial bodies like SICOM (State Industrial & Investment Corporation of Maharashtra Ltd) have become inactive.
“After having a meal, a person gives a burp indicating he does not need anything more to eat. I feel that the present leadership in the state is having the same feeling. This approach must change and steps should be taken to bring more projects to the state,” the former Chief Minister said.
Asked if potential investors fear political instability in Maharashtra, Mr Pawar said a state has to create a conducive atmosphere for attracting investments and industries.
“Instead of thinking about the state, allegations are being made against each other. I think both – those in power and in the opposition – should stop making allegations against each other and everyone should work towards improving the atmosphere in the state and focus on how to take it forward,” the NCP leader said.
Mr Pawar said when he was Chief Minister of Maharashtra, he used to take out two hours daily to have discussions with new investors. “That was the investment climate in Maharashtra. That approach needs to be brought back,” he said.
(This story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)