Nagpur: The CM has been busy addressing the press in Mumbai and outlining his success story as one year of the state CM. Today he addressed the press in Nagpur at the Patrakar Bhawan to have a ‘tete a tete’ with his press friends, as he put it.
“It is my birthday today in a way since I have completed one year as CM, and this is my home, so I don’t expect any negative or troublesome questions!” he said right at the outset disarming even the most seasoned journalists.
Fadnavis admitted frankly that getting the bureaucrats to work and do their bidding was the toughest challenge in the first year for his government. They just would not co operate.
“We had to suspend 800 officers; 50 had to be shown the door, inquiry is pending against another 200” he said.
“Even now we are getting about 50% co operation only.”
Citing an example he said he always wondered why tar roads got spoilt immediately after being laid by the PWD. He learnt that the quality of tar used is supposed to be checked in a lab. But the lab reports were fudged to protect fraudulent practises. Officer in charge had to be suspended at once.
Other examples of babus getting his government and him personally ito embarrassing trouble was the infamous ‘Sedition’ letter sent to Police. It outlined how any one criticizing any Minister or any other elected Rep. could be thrown in to jail.
“I got a lot of flak for that letter -even from the national press” complained Devendra. I knew nothing about any of this, and on enquiry I learnt neither did my Ministers. It had been done at the Babu level. The court had asked for explanation based on an old case and someone had translated some document and handed it over, without consulting. We had to take it back and give strict instructions that we – government – should always be kept in the loop about such matters.”
The same thing happened when non veg was banned during Navratri. “Decisions were all old, we were only trying to implement. Again, fingers were pointed at us.”
(No one had the temerity to explain that since he had taken the initiative to have not just cow meat but ‘Go-vansh’ meat also banned this impression of intolerance had been created.)
Talking about his achievements he said the biggest success story was the Jalayukt vihar projects that had been implemented in a big way in Vidarbha and Marathwada.
“The projects have been executed faster and with less expense that the previous government” he said, so in a way agreeing that it was a scheme that was begun during the UPA regime.
He said it was his endeavour to start any project or scheme in Vidarbha and Marathwada. When he was questioned about this by other politicians or even bureaucrats he pointed out that it was only the huge backlog he was trying to compensate for.
“So far Western Maharashtra politicians have not just taken away projects and funds to their part of the state they also tried to benefit only their constituency and town, so the really needy areas of W Maharashtra too were left undeveloped. We have to take care of those areas too” said the CM.
He also confessed that many senior bureaucrats were not ready to accept a posting in Nagpur or Vidarbha. They would make excuses and go on leave. He had to be strict in letting it be known that such tricks would not work.
That is why probably the post of MD of MIHAN ( MADC) was also lying vacant for a long time.
He agreed that many senior police positions of Vidarbha needed to be filled up but stressed that his government had been quite successful in fighting the Naxalite menace of Vidarbha areas bordering other states.
“We have even gone into Chattisgarh to liquidate some Naxalites” he shared.
Without naming any paper or group he said some sections of the media had taken to referring Nagpur always as CM’s city and simultaneously calling it the ‘Crime Capital’ of the state.
“Please refrain from such exaggeration, it damages the city as investment will not come in if this picture is painted” Devendra pointed out.
He also seemed irked by local bodies like NMC and NIT and some local level BJP politicians. Referring to the case of Sumit Thakur, who as BJP youth leader harassed some academicians, he asserted that Sumit should never have been admitted in the BJP in the first place. Due diligence had not been done. But as soon as his misdemeanours were brought to his notice he had Thakur and his family booked under MOCCA and thrown out of the party as well.
Speaking about NIT he said in exasperation “NIT barkhast karoo kya?”
When Nagpur Today asked the question that was assiduously avoided by everyone else ” When will we felicitate you as CM of Vidarbha?” tha man who was the most passionate advocate of separate Vidarbha for many years, replied diplomatically that the BJP believed in smaller states for better administration and on paper had already agreed to separate Vidarbha. But it was for them to proceed further.
When we asked categorically if it would happen during his tenure, he shot back ” Ask Modiji!”
… Sunita Mudliyar