Blaming the Centre’s “incompetence” for the worsening power crisis in the state, Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan Monday expressed concern that Centre-state relations were taking a hit under the Narendra Modi government.
With the threat of load-shedding being imposed in 70 per cent of Maharashtra looming large, the government had approached the Centre last week for permission to withdraw unallocated power from the central grid to tide over the crisis.
Even as Union Power Minister Piyush Goyal has convened a meeting with power ministers and secretaries from states reeling under power shortage Tuesday, Chavan said he wasn’t hopeful of a positive intervention from the Centre in this regard.
“Along with Sharad Pawar (NCP chief), I had earlier discussed the problem with the Union power minister. But nothing concrete emerged from it. We (the state government) have also written to the Prime Minister to convene a meeting of all chief ministers to resolve the matter,” said the chief minister.
While coal and water shortage had already impacted power generation in certain state-run power plants, the crisis got aggravated last week after private players Adani Power, Tata Power and IndiaBulls, with whom the state has long-term power purchase treaties, decreased allocations to the state. The possibility of extending load-shedding, which is currently imposed in less than 15 per cent areas, to most parts of the state ahead of the Assembly polls and during the ongoing festive season has left the ruling Congress-NCP combine worried.
Chavan’s tirade against Modi came during the launch of the Congress party’s Assembly poll campaign at Azad Maidan in Mumbai.
Slamming the Centre for a “narrow-minded” approach, he took a potshot at the BJP’s “Acche din… (Good days…)” slogan by claiming that people had now understood that “good days” were nowhere in sight. Claiming that voters fell prey to BJP’s media blitz and false promises during the Lok Sabha campaign, Chavan also hit out at Modi for his “autocratic” style of functioning.
Former Union power minister Sushil Kumar Shinde, who was also present at the event, said: “Unlike the UPA regime, the present government does not believe in coordinating effectively between states to resolve crisis situations. I fear they would persist with this policy for all opposition-ruled states.”
Keen to exploit the Modi government’s “delivery shortfalls”, the Congress has asked party leaders and workers to aggressively highlight the difference between promises made during the LS campaign and the actual delivery or lack of it before the voters.
Mounting an all-out attack against the BJP-Shiv Sena combine, former chief minister and party’s poll committee chief Narayan Rane alleged that Modi had inducted 12 ministers facing corruption allegations in his cabinet. “They (Sena-BJP) are accusing us of being corrupt. I would like them to first answer whether BJP-ruled states are corruption free?They should also reply as to why corruption accused B S Yeddyuruppa’s son was granted a party ticket to contest LS polls,” Rane said.
Questioning the leadership skills of BJP-Sena leaders in the state, Rane said: “None of them have the ability to become even a minister.
Yet, many are aspiring to be the next chief minister of Maharashtra.”
Highlighting various development work carried out by the state government and the erstwhile UPA regime at the Centre, he said: “The Congress is seeking votes on the development carried out, whereas the BJP-Sena is only begging for votes.”
Former chief minister and Congress’s state poll coordination committee chief Ashok Chavan, meanwhile, in a veiled reference to the separate Vidarbha demand being backed by some senior BJP leaders, said: “The BJP has a hidden agenda of dividing Maharashtra, whereas we stand for unified Maharashtra. This is an election to safeguard undivided Maharashtra and its secular credentials.”
In a symbolic gesture for “unified Maharashtra”, the Congress campaign was launched with a torch lighting ceremony at the Hutatma Chowk, a memorial for 105 martyrs who fought for incarnation of Maharashtra state.
Meanwhile, state Congress president Manikrao Thakre also took a dig at ally NCP, asking it to end its show of strength and seal the alliance pact with Congress.