Devendra Fadnavis just completed two years in office as CM and he ‘celebrated’ the occasion with the press in Nagpur by holding a combined meet at his official residence in Nagpur in lieu of giving exclusive interviews.
“My exclusive dates are all used up” he quipped. Earlier, speaking in Marathi, he had also joked that since ‘his English was not so good’ his interviews given to English channels and newspapers tend to be misunderstood.
Unlike last year, when he had met the press at Patrakar Bhawan on completing one year in office and had complained that bureaucrats by and large were not co operating with his government, he seemed much more confident this year.
One reason could be that the recently concluded NITI Ayog meet had given Maharashtra top marks in many sectors.
Surprisingly, a state that has seen an increase in the spate of farmers’ suicides, was given Number One ranking in agricultural development and agro industries leaving states like Gujarat and Rajasthan behind.
In ease of doing business also the state’s marks had gone up from 49% to 92%. Last year the state had been termed as “Aspiring leader” – this year it had gained “Leader” status and was ranked among the top 10.
An international rating agency had called Maharashtra ” the most innovative and competitive” of all Indian states, Devendra announced proudly.
He also stated that under his leadership the state had got maximum investment including FDI last year, so employment was also looking up. (Where are jobs for Vidarbha youth, but Mr. C.M.?)
Fadnavis also claimed that Maharashtra had implemented Modi’s Swachcha Bharat Abhiyan most sincerely and scores of villages had been declared ‘hagardari mukta’ i.e. people were not defecating in the open anymore.
“Of the 118 Indian cities that had been held exemplary on the score of Swachata, 52 were from Maharashtra alone” he said.
He also said that the ‘learning ability’ of students state wide had gone up dramatically after 25,000 schools had been digitalized. Of these in 17,000 schools learning ability was found to be 100%.
“The standard of education even in government run schools has improved so much that for the first time parents are removing children from private schools and putting them in govt. schools” said the C.M.
Speaking about law and order – in a city where crime rate is consistently going up according to official records – he declared that the rate of conviction had gone up from 9 to 52%.
Devendra announced that very soon people could register FIRs online so the long wait at police stations and problem of jurisdiction ( of police stations) would not be there as anyone could file FIR from anywhere and it would be immediately recorded so police would have to take action.
Speaking about his pet project of the Nagpur – Mumbai super expressway, he said this would not just make travelling between the two cities faster but would connect the JNPT port to Nagpur since goods for export could be transported there in 16 hours only.
There will be four pipelines running under the highway which will bring petroleum and petroleum products to Nagpur making it feasible for many down stream industries to come here. He mentioned that with Gas being available easily he hoped that Electronics industry would get a boost since even today most electronic equipments and parts are imported.
Electronics are the third largest goods imported into India after petroleum and gas, he said. (Which means all your computer, TV and smart phone components are imported into the country, not manufactured here).
Fadnavis thanked Union Minister Gadkari for his co operation and blessings in making surface and other modes of transport very easy and accessible in the state.
“The number of highways in the state will soon see a quantum leap”
Ironically, speaking in Nagpur the subjects of Forest and wild life conservation and preservation and malnutrition, specially among tribals, were not mentioned at all. Nor was Tourism. Specially in the context of our neighboring state M.P. making big strides in it and leaving Maharashtra far behind with all its tourism potential which the land locked M.P. does not enjoy.
When asked by NT team about the state govt. being pulled up for increase in malnutrition and infancy death rates in Melghat and Palghar he stated categorically that it was not true for Melghat but Palghar definitely needed “looking into”. He did not elaborate.
Answering questions on Maratha reservation and how it would be possible to implement it given constitutional constraints, the CM made two important statements.
First, he said the Maratha ire was not so much against the government as against being left out of the prosperity and development index that 30% of the caste had achieved. (Which means that though there are some ‘very rich and prosperous’ Marathas, the prosperity hasn’t percolated down to grass roots. Get the hint Mr. Pawar?)
Secondly, he said that Maharashtra could follow the Tamilnadu pattern where reservations were almost for 68% of population.
But he claimed that when his two projects for educational aid to children of farmers were implemented, reservations would probably not be needed.
Concluding with outlining plans for Nagpur he said that there were six bidders for the Nagpur airport and when privatization was done, the work of the second runway and international traffic to the city would get a boost.