Veteran Congress leader says Maharashtra will see a fairly stable govt despite stresses
GN Bureau | April 9, 2021
Raising concerns about the “leaks” of aspects of an ongoing investigation into incidents leading to political turmoil in Maharashtra, former chief minister and senior Congress leader Prithviraj Chavan has said the NIA is selectively leaking info on the case and it is a serious matter.
The issues in case of police matters are intermingled and leading to a common thread. Allegations of corruption are being investigated by the CBI under the Bombay high court order and the preliminary inquiry would be over in 15 days.
“The NIA which is conducting a separate probe is interestingly leaking certain parts of investigations; a letter purportedly written by [depose police officer Sachin] Vaze has been made public. The credibility of investigating agencies is at stake as selective leaks coming out of investigative agencies is a matter of credibility and does not inspire confidence on both agencies and their processes,” said Chavan.
He was in a chat with Kailashnath Adhikari, MD, Governance Now, during a live webcast Thursday as part of the Visionary Talk series held by the public policy and governance analysis platform.
Watch the video:
Chavan added that simultaneously an inquiry set up by the chief minister under the chairmanship of the retired Bombay high court judge, Justice KU Chandiwal, is also going on.
Speaking from his hometown Karad in Satara district, 159 km away from Pune, where Serum Institute of India, the world’s largest manufacturer and supplier of Covid-19 vaccine is located, Chavan said, “The city has run out of vaccine stocks today.” He called for transparency in supply of vaccines and supported the call of vaccination for all subject to its availability.
He said that besides Serum Institute, Maharashtra also receives part of its supply from Bharat Biotech in Hyderabad. “There is lack of transparency at the central government level… how much of the vaccines from both companies are being exported? How much is being distributed within the country… to the states… datewise…? Because the moment a shipment arrives it is further sent to regions and districts… it is operating very well... but we have to get a clearance from the government for the Pune stocks to be given to Maharashtra,” he said.
He also called out for transparency in data on numbers of vaccine availability and said it should be made available as also its sequencing. “Serum Institute is manufacturing 60 million doses: how much of that is committed to being given back to the UK under the AstraZeneca Oxford University agreement should be known. How much vaccine is the government commandeering as sale, as an export (sale or as gifts to foreign countries) as part of vaccine diplomacy which will give a clear picture of finally what is left for domestic consumption. Subject to international commitments we will have to see how much vaccine is available for domestic distribution.”
Responding to a question on chief minister Uddhav Thackeray asking the centre to allow vaccination for all (not just those above 45 years of age) when in fact Maharashtra is facing a shortage of vaccine and if this will lead to chaos, the former Rajya Sabha MP said while there is no denying the fact that everyone should be vaccinated, it will depend on sequencing which will depend on the availability of vaccines.
He added that the call to distribute vaccine on the criteria of going by strict population norms or otherwise by caseload will have to be taken jointly by states and the central government.
He also said that Maharashtra government has applied to ICMR and the central government to allow state-owned and Mumbai-based Haffkine Institute to manufacture Covid-19 vaccine and the application is pending. (Haffkine is the largest vaccine manufacturer of the polio vaccine).
He praised the central government for developing the CoWIN application which he said is seamless and appears to be working very well and reiterated the need for transparency on availability of vaccines and its delivery mechanism.
Speaking about small traders and small businessmen who are not allowed to operate in the pandemic-led restrictions, he said they were already reeling under the economic burden and effects of the earlier lockdown and are worst affected. With their business completely shut, they will not be able to pay their loans and pay salaries of their employees and face other difficulties. He also said that small local entertainment groups in the interiors of Maharashtra including band players have also been left out of the state circular.
“Currently the crisis is about insignificantly small groups banned to earn livelihoods and traders which are not forming in the essential category group forming a large group… some relief need to be given to them subject to certain conditions,” he said.
While speaking on the current political turmoil and threat of instability in Maharashtra, Chavan said, “The numbers of MVA are such that unless one constituent of the alliance breaks away and joins BJP there is no threat to the government. That is unlikely to happen. In the second possibility, without the permission of party leaders can a group break away from the three alliance partners and join BJP? It appears unlikely because the anti-defection law requires two-third majority and that is a large number. Thirdly, the Karnataka and Madhya Pradesh pattern where a certain number of MLAs were made to resign will not happen here because if MLAs from MVA break away and recontest against MVA, then BJP does not stand a chance. Despite stresses, Maharashtra will see a fairly stable government,” he said.
Chavan also spoke on the ongoing state elections and said that the Congress is committed to fight “communal forces” whether it is in Tamil Nadu, Kerala or in Assam where it is fighting the BJP. In West Bengal, the party is trying to prevent BJP from enlarging its footprint but has a limited role. The Left parties had been in power for a long time in West Bengal and it is not clear if they will have resurgence in the state.
On Assam where the Congress has a tie-upwith Badruddin Ajmal, he said it is a broad-based alliance in where BJP is communally dividing the state. “Our common objective is to stop BJP from spreading communal hatred in Assam and prevent its majoritarian politics.”
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