Leader of Opposition in Maharashtra Assembly Devendra Fadnavis on Monday denied BJP MP from Karnataka Anantkumar Hegde’s purported remarks that Fadnavis was sworn-in as chief minister for a brief while as part of a planned “drama” to protect Rs 40,000 crore Central funds to the state from being “misused” by the next chief minister.
While Fadnavis called the remarks “absolutely wrong”, “highly improper” and “baseless”, leaders from the governing coalition in the state — the Shiv Sena, NCP and the Congress — condemned this “treachery” against Maharashtra and sought an answer from Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
The BJP central leadership is reportedly unhappy with Hegde’s “needless” comments, and a senior BJP leader said the leadership’s “displeasure” will be conveyed to the former Union minister, PTI reported.
In a video uploaded recently on his Facebook page, Hegde had purportedly said, while speaking at an election meeting in Uttara Kannada district, “Recently our person (Fadnavis) became Chief Minister for 80 hours. Then resigned. Why was this drama staged? Didn’t we know? Why did he become CM despite knowing we (BJP) didn’t have the majority? These are the questions everyone will ask.”
He purportedly said, “More than Rs 40,000 crore was under the Chief Minister’s control. If the NCP, Congress and Shiv Sena came to power, certainly that Rs 40,000 crore would not have gone for development. This was all planned before.”
Maharashtra Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari had given oath of office to Fadnavis as CM and then-rebel NCP legislator Ajit Pawar as his deputy early November 23 morning. Both resigned three days later, before the floor test in the House.
Hegde also purportedly asserted that it took 15 hours for Fadnavis to ensure that the money “reaches where it had to”. He said, “Once we got to know (about Sena-NCP-Congress forming government) it was decided that a drama has to be played out. So adjustments were made and oath was taken. After oath, within 15 hours Fadnavis systematically ensured that it (money) reaches where it had to and protected it. If it had been kept here (in Maharashtra), the next chief minister…you know what would have happened.”
Fadnavis told the media in Mumbai, “I don’t know what the MP (Hegde) has said. But what I understood from the media, I can say it is an absolutely wrong allegation. Not a single penny from the state has gone to the Centre, nor received (from the Centre).”
He added, “If anybody is making such false charges, it is highly improper and baseless.”
Fadnavis also said the state government’s role in the bullet train project is confined to land acquisition, and that anyone who understands financial accounting system of the Centre and state will know the process.
He was reacting to Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray’s announcement on Sunday about a decision to review the Mumbai-Ahmedabad bullet train project.
Fadnavis said, “There is no reason why funds will come to the state government. The Centre has formed a company where the funds would come. So where is the question of funds flowing to the state (government)? Or why would the Centre seek funds from the state for any project, including bullet train?”
He asserted that “not a single penny was transferred” to the Centre “during my tenure as (either) full-fledged CM during election period or even as caretaker or short-tenure CM”.
Sena MP Sanjay Raut said, “The BJP MP says Rs 40,000 crore was moved to Centre. This is treachery with Maharashtra. PM will have to give an explanation on this.”
On Fadnavis denying the allegation, Raut said, “If that is the case, then the BJP MP should apologise to Maharashtra. Hegde would not speak without having complete information.”
“If Fadnavis is saying he didn’t do, then we should trust him. But, if it has been done or an attempt has been made, then he does not have the right to climb the stairs of the state legislature,” he added.
NCP’s chief spokesperson Nawab Malik said, “It is not possible to send back Rs 40,000 crore and if it has been done, then the Prime Minister will have to resign… This is not only injustice done on Maharashtra (if money was returned to the Centre) but also on all other states.”
Seeking a reply from Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Congress spokesperson Randeep Surjewala tweeted, “A Union minister has exposed the Modi government. BJP’s anti-Maharashtra face has been exposed. Has the federal structure been crushed? Was Rs 40,000 crore earmarked for welfare of the public and farmers withdrawn through a conspiracy? Prime Minister Reply!”
“There is no truth in it. Not a single penny has been transferred to the Centre,” said Manoj Saunik, additional chief secretary, who is holding additional charge of Finance Department.