First ever BJP-led Government in Maharashtra is headed by a young and dynamic Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis. When Fadnavis is completing one year as Chief Minister, he said that we do not have time to celebrate the one year completion, instead he emphasised this is the time to communicate to the people. Here are the excerpts of his frank and candid conversation with Organiser/ Panchjanya:
- First of all congratulations for completing one year in the office and best wishes for the future journey!
Thanks a lot!
- You have travelled from a Swayamsevak to ABVP activist to BJP leader and eventually the Chief Minister of Maharashtra. How far this journey has helped you in administering the state? How far you have been successful in aligning the principles with practical aspects of governance?
As I have travelled from a common activist, I am well aware of the ground realities. I am well aware of the way people perceive certain decisions. Because of ideological grooming, there is clarity of thoughts and no confusion about the path. Ultimately, thoughts or principles guide you to walk on the right path. Fortunately, I have come from a school of thought in which any decision making process is never complete unless it is tested on the basic question of whether it is in the national and social interest or not. That is the biggest advantage for me. It helps me reaching to the right solution through right path.
- How would you rate your performance in the last one year in terms of success and failure?
The challenges are big. 15 years of the state administration has been really bad where the fundamental driving force of government in Maharashtra had been the ‘misuse of power’. Therefore, everyday is a challenge. There is a huge financial burden on the exchequer due to loans and committed expenditure and there is no leeway to do any experimentation. Despite these odds, we have been successful in doing many things in just a year.
Our biggest achievement is the change that took place through Jalyukta Shivar (A water body in every village). We executed this scheme with participatory approach and created the water capacity of 24 TMC in 6200 villages, which can ensure irrigation for 6 lakh hector agricultural land. We have spent more than Rs 1,400 crores for the same, but more importantly, people have contributed around Rs 300 crore for the same scheme. This could not be achieved by spending by the previous government even after spending 15,000 crore in 5 years. We are planning to cover 5000 more villages in this scheme in the coming years. We are convinced that unless sustainable agriculture is created in Maharashtra, true development of the state is not possible. Besides this, successful organisation of Simhastha Kumbha and railway projects in Marathwada are other important achievements of the year.
- If this the biggest achievement, what are the failures or any area which you could not address this year as a priority?
Frankly, there is no area which remained untouched in this year; the only difference is that due to prioritisation every sector is on the different stage of success. For instance, industrialisation is one sector where we could attract huge investment. The state is back on top at the national level in terms of investment. An international brand like Foxon is investing in Maharashtra which can be a turning point for the nation in terms of manufacturing and employment in the field of electronics. I am confident that as China has been the manufacturing hub for the world, in coming years similar will be the situation about Bharat and Maharashtra will lead that. For which, we have taken important measures for ease in doing business. I should accept that we could not communicate our decisions to the people of Maharashtra, rather this is a failure. I feel that completion of a year cannot be the occasion for celebration but for communication.
Bureaucracy has to adapt to the pace of the new government. Now on the occasion of one year completion, we are effectively galvanising party cadres to take the government initiatives to the people.
- You spoke about Ease of doing business. The reality is industry is still concentrated in Mumbai-Pune-Nasik triangle but the similar infrastructure is missing in regions like Vidarbha and Marathwada. How are you going to address this?
It is true that industry is concentrated in Mumbai and surrounding areas. Now our focus is on Vidarbha, Marathwada and North Maharashtra. In Amaravati district of Vidarbha we have developed integrated textile park. Already 10 companies have set up their plants, including Reymonds. The similar initiative is taken in 10 cotton producing districts which are out of industrial triangle. This processing industry will help farmers as well. In terms of ease of doing business, Maharashtra is ranked 8th in the centre’s assessment, mainly because the 40 permission related to the labour department are not on the digital platforms. We are working on that.
- Bureaucracy is still perceived as a major hurdle in Maharashtra. How are you going to change this scenario?
We have taken two initiatives in this regard. Maharashtra is the first state to introduce Right to Service Act in Bharat, through which it is mandatory for all government agencies to provide services to the citizens in the specified time. Citizens have got legal recourse as a right at the same time it is a legal responsibility of the concerned authority. Secondly, we are bringing all services related to common citizen on a single portal called ‘Aaple Sarkar’ (Our Government). This is going to change the perceptions of democracy in Maharashtra.
- Is it a fight of perception for you? There is no clear majority in the assembly. Alliance partner is not cooperating. How do you deal with this?
Honestly, there is no problem from the alliance partner. Most of the decisions taken in the cabinet are unanimous and Shiv Sena is an equal party to it. There may be difference of opinion on certain issues but that is there even within a party and can be resolved through discussion. We have worked together for more than 25 years, know each other’s temperament and nature very well, so we manage that well.
- Overall Maharashtra is the centre of controversies in national media whether it is beef ban, religious intolerance or Shiv Sena taking a stand on Pakistan.
See the pseudo-secular media create baseless issues. We never imposed meet ban, but it was stamped on us. Previous government had sent a proposal to ban Sanatan Sanstha to the Centre, which was pending for 3 years due to lack of substantial evidence. Nobody spoke about it. Ban on cow slaughter is enacted in 25 states, why Maharashtra is singled out? The reality is that we just implemented the Ban on Cow Slaughter which was already enacted many years ago as per the Directive Principles of State Policy. This has nothing to do with religion, if the cattle breeding is less, farm productivity reduces is the national experience. So until this pseudo-secular perspective prevails, such baseless allegations will be made, they will target the BJP government.
- While talking to Organiser after assuming the office last year, you said integral humanism and Antyodaya would reflect in my governance. How far you are successful in achieving that?
Our all decisions, efforts are made in that direction. The inclusive development and bringing the marginalised sections in mainstream are the basis of all decisions. When we present our report card on the completion of one year, you will see the integral humanism would reflect in it.