Maharashtra cabinet minister says lockdown impacts economy, but important to save lives
GN Bureau | April 3, 2021
Ruling out reports of NCP and BJP coming together to form an alliance, Nawab Malik, Maharashtra cabinet minister and president of the Mumbai unit of NCP, has said BJP has always made such offers to his party but there is no likelihood for such an alliance and it will never happen.
In a conversation with Kailashnath Adhikari, Managing Director, Governance Now, Malik said that when the Nationalist Congress Party was being formed and Atal Bihari Vajpayee was the prime minister, an offer to ally with BJP was made to their party chief Sharad Pawar along with a cabinet position. Later in 1999 after the results of assembly elections in Maharashtra, again there was an offer to create a three-party alliance including NCP and BJP but NCP did not want to ally with BJP. An offer was made again in 2017 when BJP and Shiv Sena relations were getting strained.
“In 2019 just before our government was formed, Shri Ajit Pawar made a certain mistake… Pawar Saheb and everyone in the party decided not to ally with BJP. It is certain that there will be no alliance of BJP and NCP in Maharashtra. It is political gossip. There is more gossip in politics than in the film industry today. But politics does not run on gossip. The truth is there will be no alliance between NCP and BJP in the days to come. The three-party government is working well and will continue to work together for its full term.”
Malik was speaking during the live webcast of the Visionary Talk series Friday, organised by the public policy and governance analysis platform.
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Responding to the question on political instability due to the recent turn of events, Malik said BJP is spreading lies against the three-party alliance government of NCP, Shiv Sena, and Congress which has a comfortable majority of more than 170 MLAs and running the government with a common minimum programme. He reiterated that the government will complete its full term of five years in Maharashtra.
Responding to the term ‘Maha Vasuli Sarkar’ used by the opposition for the tri-party government, he said it has been coined by the BJP to discredit the government and picked up by media which is highly inappropriate.
“The way BJP has always been proclaiming that the alliance would only last for one or three or six months or there will be ‘Operation Lotus’ and MLAs will break away, there will be president’s rule in the state…. The supreme court, in the case of S R Bommai vs Union of India, has ruled that a state government cannot be arbitrarily dismissed unless it loses majority.” He added that BJP tried to destabilize the government in Uttarakhand and failed after Harish Rawat came back with a majority.
On the question of recently reported meeting of Sharad Pawar with union home minister Amit Shah and what it indicated, Malik who is currently the minority development, aukaf, skill development and entrepreneurship minister of Maharashtra and spokesperson of NCP, said there is no truth to such reports and no such meeting took place.
Answering a question on if the state home minister, Anil Deshmukh, should resign pending inquiry into allegations by former Mumbai police commissioner Param Bir Singh, he said calling for the home minister’s resignation without proper inquiry is not correct. The chief minister has appointed retired Justice JU Chandwal to probe the allegations and if he finds any misdoing, Deshmukh may face an inquiry.
“BJP is spreading a false narrative fuelled by media whether it is Mansukh Hiren’s death, keeping explosives-laden car outside Antilia, reinstating Vaze or Param Bir’s allegations, we know he has no involvement in any of these cases and he is not guilty. The CM and all ministers know that he is not involved. Let the report come out and the truth will be out,” he said.
Malik also spoke on the restrictions to be imposed by the government due to the surge of Covid-19 cases in the state and said that Mumbai has reported more than 8,000 Covid cases in a day due to increased testing. The intention to impose a lockdown is not to inconvenience people but it is a precautionary measure to ensure that cases don’t increase to a point where we are not able to provide treatment facilities to our people. Due to the variants of the virus, cases of asymptomatic patients are increasing. In earlier cases oxygen saturation level was low and that is not the case now. He added that given the number of ICUs and oxygen aids and beds available at present, the rate at which cases are increasing will put pressure and the state will not be able to match them with available facilities. Malik added that a lockdown impacts the economy but it becomes a compulsion to save the lives of people and for their welfare and good. He appealed to the people to cooperate with the government till the situation is normalized and urged them to follow all Covid norms and protocol and avoid crowds.
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