In an indicator that job creation will be a major poll plank in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, both the ruling BJP and the Opposition in Maharashtra took potshots at each other over it on Monday.
While Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis and his Cabinet colleagues have been projecting Maharashtra as “India’s startup capital”, the Congress on Monday used rankings released by the Centre’s Department of Industrial Policy & Promotion (DIPP) last week to question this claim.
On December 20, the DIPP had released the much-awaited ‘State Startup Rankings’ report, which ranks states on the basis of the policies framed for promoting startups in the state. In this report, Maharashtra, which was classified as an emerging state on the ranking indicators, found itself outside the top 15 performing states’ list.
Mounting the attack for the Congress, former Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan targeted Fadnavis over the report. “The Centre itself has exposed how the state government’s claim of Maharashtra being the startup capital is nothing but bluster,” Chavan said.
While BJP’s ally Shiv Sena controls the state’s industries department, Chavan said Fadnavis, who has been claiming political credit for pushing industrial policies, was to be blamed for the “poor” ranking.
Mounting a further offensive against Fadnavis, Chavan alleged the industrial growth rate has consistently declined in Maharashtra since the Fadnavis government won office.
“In 2015-16, the industrial growth rate was clocked at 7.2 per cent, which dropped to 6.9 per cent and 6.5 per cent in 2016-17 and 2018-19,” Chavan said. The Fadnavis government has been in power since October 31, 2014.
While the state government has been thumping its chest for making Maharashtra the most favoured investment destination in India, Chavan claimed the Centre’s own report shows it has been slipping consistently in the Ease of Doing Business (EoDB) rankings among states. “In 2015, the state was eighth placed. It dropped to 10 in 2016, 11 in 2017 and 13 in 2018.”
Countering Chavan’s offensive, Finance Minister Sudhir Mungantiwar accused the former CM of “tweaking” the interpretation of the DIPP’s startup ranking report to suit the Congress’s political narrative.
“It is not expected of a former CM to malign the state’s image based on convenient interpretation of rankings,” said Mungantiwar.
“Maharashtra is India’s startup capital. Out of the 14,036 startups registered in India, 2,787 startups, the most, are in the state, he said.
Mungantiwar claimed the startup rankings referred to by Chavan did not measure the state on the basis on the number of startups but on policy frameworks evolved till May 2018.