Chief Minister Devendra Fadanvis on Saturday said that it is in the interest of both BJP and its ally Shiv Sena to fight the next year’s state and Lok Sabha elections jointly, failing which, both parties could “face losses”.
Fadanvis was interacting with the editorial staff of Loksatta and The Indian Express in Nagpur on Saturday.
“I think we (BJP and Shiv Sena) will have to fight the election jointly if there is going to be a pre-poll alliance between Congress and NCP. This is because a large number of our voters are common and they vote for us when we jointly fight elections. Therefore, if we go it alone, we will definitely encounter losses,” the CM said.
He, however, added that his government will retain power in 2019 as well.
When pointed out that his chief ministership had come under a cloud of late and asked if he would go to the Union government as a minister if the party doesn’t repeat him as the CM, Fadnavis said, “I will do whatever the party would like me to do.”
On the issue of farm distress, Fadnavis said that his government had taken several steps to ameliorate the problems faced by farmers. “We have managed to achieve the highest productivity level in 2012-13 despite experiencing drought in the last two years. This is mainly due to protective irrigation made possible by the Jalyukt Shivar initiative.
Similarly, we have hastened the completion of various irrigation projects in Vidarbha. Last year, we could irrigate 1 lakh hactare from Gosikhurd project,” he added.
“We have also manage to keep market prices of farm produce stable by getting the Centre to intervene by way of(import) duty. It ensured that the farmers got prices for crops like cotton and soyabean above MSP lavels. This year, too, we have a good prospect for soyabean export to China, which has said that it will buy the entire stock following the US stopping export in a trade war between the two countries,” he added.
Fadnavis claimed that his government’s procurement of farm produce was way higher, at over Rs 8,500 crore, compared to around Rs 400 crore by the previous government. He, however, conceded that procurement of pulses was a challenge. “We are planning to encourage farmers to go for a crops like castor, which has huge export potential unlike arhar that is consumed mostly where Indians live.”
The CM denied that his government has decided to force traders to purchase at MSP and jail them if they fail to comply. “MSP is Centre’s prerogative. We never talked about MSP. We spoke about statutory minimum price, which will be enforceable if the state government decides so, as per the amended APMC Act.”
On the issue of traders’ protests, he said, “It’s not a question of hurting or pleasing anyone. We need to take some decisions in farmer’s interest.”
On challenges posed by rising fuels prices, Fadanvis said: “Fuel duties have been like a milch cow for states. But time has now come to end this milking and bring petrol and diesel prices under GST.”
Asked if and how his government has been able to better the crumbling financial condition of the state bequeathed by the previous government, he said, “We have been able to bring down the percentage of debt with respect to GDP from 19 to about 15 per cent. We have so managed our fiscal space that we reserved the fund largely for rural and semi urban areas and managed urban development projects largely through off-budget plans like land securetisation as in the case of Samruddhi corridor. The government expenditure in this projects has been minimal.”
On Vidarbha’s development, Fadnavis said: “We have focused a lot on the region but it will take some time for the injustice meted out for decades to be undone. When in Opposition, we had always advocated differential tariffs for different regions. We have actually done that now and it has already started attracting investment in the region.”
On his visit to the residence of Congress leader Kripashankar Singh for Ganesh puja, he said, “Every year, I go to Milind Narvekar’s home for Ganpati. It so happened that Singh came to reside on the floor above. So, when I went to Narvekar’s home, Singh also called me. So, I went there.”
Asked if he would be the CM of Maharashtra or Vidarbha post 2019 elections, Fadnavis laughed, saying: “Such questions are asked when the questionnaire is exhausted.”