Shiv Sena MP in conversation with Kailashnath Adhikari, MD, Governance Now
GN Bureau | May 6, 2022
Lok Sabha MP and Shiv Sena leader Arvind Sawant has said that prime minister Narendra Modi is passing the buck and not fulfilling his responsibility of governance towards the states.
After skyrocketing fuel prices and resulting inflation, PM Modi has asked states to adhere to the spirit of cooperative federalism and reduce taxes in line with the excise duty reduction by the centre to bring down prices of petrol and diesel.
Sawant however said that every state has its own budget where major revenue came from sales tax which now has culminated into GST and going to the centre. He said the government is withholding a huge chunk of GST from states and this cannot be called good governance.
“As the PM of the country, Modi must set an example of governance rather than passing the buck on states. The government is not giving its slice of Rs 26,500 crore of GST to states,” he said.
Sawant was in conversation with Kailashnath Adhikari, MD, Governance Now, during a webcast as part of the Visionary Talk series organized by the public policy and governance analysis platform.
Watch the video:
The Shiv Sena leader added that even when Maharashtra was hit by two cyclones of Nisarga and Tauktai, the central government did not give a penny to the state. But in the case of Gujarat when it was hit by Tauktai, Modi toured the state on a helicopter to assess the damage and did not even bother to check the devastation it caused in Maharashtra when it would have taken only a few more minutes of his time.
“He [Modi] not only chose to return to Delhi but also did not give a penny to Maharashtra. This is the step-motherly treatment that Maharashtra is getting from the central government and cannot be called governance,” he said and asked why the PM is taking all projects of Maharashtra to Gujarat. “Are you the prime minister of Gujarat or are you the PM of the country? This is not governance,” he said.
Speaking on a range of issues, he said inflation, unemployment, farmers’ travails and women’s concerns are major and most pressing issues the country is facing. He also raised alarm at the rising graph of crimes against women including rape across the country on a daily basis and said, “We are miserably failing in governance.”
Crediting Maharashtra chief minister Uddhav Thackeray for efficient management of Covid-19 in the state and the setting up of task forces, the Shiv Sena MP said throughout Asia there is no example of the manner in which the chief minister set up field hospitals within 48-72 hours.
“It was his vision, decision and implementation when he personally saw that within 48-72 hours hospitals were set up with all amenities and 2,000 beds were set up. It is outstanding that he is the first person to create a task force of expert doctors and for children.”
On the Mumbai Coastal Road project, Sawant said 55% work is already done and it should be completed by end of 2024.
Asked to comment on the BJP’s statement that the recently started Mumbai Metro lines 7 and 2A are its gift to Mumbaikars, Sawant said the government is a continuous process and if BJP chooses to make this claim, it should not forget that Shiv Sena was its ally in the earlier government in the state.
He said between 1995 and 1999, Shiv Sena was instrumental in construction of 55 flyovers in Maharashtra besides completing its dream projects – Bandra-Worli Sea Link and Mumbai-Pune Expressway.
On Raj Thackeray’s current efforts to raise Hindutva issues, the Shiv Sena MP likened him to Bollywood movie character ‘Munnabhai MBBS’ and said the MNS supremo is whimsical.
“Initially he praised Modi, then he turned into his severe critic issuing a video. He heaped praises on Sharad Pawar and then turned into his critic also. It was ‘Vandaniya’ Shiv Sena pramukh, Balasaheb Thackeray who brought Hindutva in socio-politics in the country.”
He said Shiv Sena is the only political party that contested over Hindutva at the time even when the BJP was in opposition. In 1987 during the by-election in Vile Parle when Ramesh Prabhu from Shiv Sena was the mayor of Mumbai and Congress and BJP were in opposition, Babasaheb Thackeray had raised the slogan ‘Garv se kaho hum hindu hain’. Balasaheb said Hindutva does not mean ringing bells in temple. It means taking on extremists, Sawant said.
Further reiterating the Hindutva ideology of Shiv Sena, he said Uddhav Thackeray took up the slogan ‘Mandir wahin banayenge, tareekh nahin batayenge’. He added that it was not BJP but the Supreme Court that took the decision to go ahead with construction of the Ayodhya temple.
Sawant said BJP is good at event management and changes its colours like a chameleon daily. Adding that though ‘The Kashmir Files’ movie is a painful reminder of what happened to Kashmiri Pandits, he said, “It is only rhetoric. What has the prime minister provided to Kashmiri Pandits in Kashmir? While we appreciate the abrogation of Articles 370 and 35A, where is the beauty of Kashmiriyat, Hindustaniyat, love, affection and healthy relations and no discrimination for being a Hindu or a Muslim...”
Expressing confidence at Shiv Sena retaining power in the Mumbai civic municipal elections, he explained that as per MMC Act 1888, the municipality is supposed to run dispensaries/ health centers. However, BMC is not only running hospitals but super-specialty hospitals where people from all over India come for treatment. In addition he said BMC has set up a hospital and college when it is the duty of the state government to take financial support from the central government. He added that to augment water supply to Mumbai, BMC created Upper Vaitarna Lake with its own funds which now supplies 24x7 water to Mumbai . “This is the vision of Uddhav Thackeray,” he said.
Sawant also said that the Mumbai’s sewerage system built by the British for its population at that time too has been enhanced by Uddhav Thackeray keeping in view its current density of population. He credited the CM and his team of health minister Rajesh Tope and others for having done outstanding work during Covid-19
Asked if the MVA government will make a come-back in the next state elections, he said it is working very well and cohesively. “Very good cabinet decisions have been taken by the government and also implemented,” he said.
On the centre allegedly using federal agencies against the opposition, Sawant said this has been done for the last 15 years including when the Congress was in power. He said like the central government, the media too is discriminatory.
On the controversy in Mumbai over the Rana couple wishing to chant ‘Hanuman Chalisa’ before the CM’s residence, he said the Constitution provides for privacy and you cannot intrude into any one’s home. If someone wants to chant ‘Hanuman Chalisa’ they can go to the temple. “To publicly challenge that I will come to your house and chant and see how you will oppose is not the way. India is a country of diverse religions. There is unity in diversity.”
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