HomePoliticsAs Tata-Airbus lands its project in Gujarat, Shinde-Fadnavis govt. faces flak from...

As Tata-Airbus lands its project in Gujarat, Shinde-Fadnavis govt. faces flak from Opposition for losing yet another big-ticket project

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Mumbai: A bitter war of words has erupted in Maharashtra on Friday after the ruling Eknath Shinde-Devendra Fadnavis-led government came under heavy flak from the Opposition parties for allegedly ‘losing’ another big-ticket project to Gujarat after the Centre earlier announced that the Rs. 22,000 crore Tata-Airbus project (for manufacturing military transport aircraft) would now come up in Vadodara, even as the Maharashtra government tried to locate the project at Nagpur. 

Coming barely a month after the ‘flight’ of the Rs. 1.5 lakh crore Vedanta-Foxconn project to Gujarat, the Balasahebanchi Shiv Sena-Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) coalition was accused of “ineptness” in “repeatedly losing big projects” with massive employment generation potential in Maharashtra as the opposition Shiv Sena (Uddhav Balasaheb Thackeray), the Congress and the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) demanded the resignations of State Industries Minister Uday Samant and Chief Minister Eknath Shinde. 

Denying that the Shinde-Fadnavis government ‘lost’ the Tata-Airbus project to Gujarat, Samant accused the opposition leaders, particularly Uddhav faction leader Aaditya Thackeray, of “deliberately attempting to mislead the youth” and the State’s public by wrongly claiming that the Shinde-Fadnavis government were losing projects – and thereby employment – to Gujarat. 

Samant further stressed that the award of the project to Gujarat had nothing to do with the upcoming Assembly election there. 

“The Opposition must stop trying to mislead the public in this manner… The decision to site the (Tata-Airbus) project in Vadodara had already been made a year before and has no relation with the upcoming Gujarat election. The agreement for the Bulk Drugs Park project was done in October 2020, the MoU for Tata-Airbus was signed in September 2021 and the application for Vedanta-Foxconn, which came in January this year when the Gujarat elections were not in the horizon,” said the Minister. 

Samant further said that in the next few days, a project with a bigger investment capacity than Vedanta-Foxconn will soon be coming to the State. 

The Shinde faction Minister for Industries added, “I cannot disclose what those projects are right now but can merely say that results would automatically sew the lips of the Opposition once we get big projects… erstwhile MVA government led by Uddhav Thackeray had not done anything when they were in power, and are now trying to confuse people by giving wrong information.” 

The Tata-Airbus C-295 project, involving the manufacture of 56 military transport aircraft which is to replace the IAF’s older Avro aircraft, is to be a manufacturing milestone in which military aircraft is to be manufactured indigenously by a private company in order to boost the Make-in-India defence programme. 

Sixteen of the aircraft are to be delivered in flyaway condition by Airbus Defence and Space SA, Spain and the remaining 40 are to be manufactured in India by the Indian aircraft contractor – Tata consortium of Tata Advanced Systems Limited (TASL) and Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) led by TASL. 

While the Centre’s announcement that the project would come up in Gujarat is expected to strengthen the BJP’s electoral chances in the poll-bound state, the move comes as a major embarrassment to the Shinde-Fadnavis government, which had been attempting to locate the project at the Multi-modal International Cargo Hub and Airport (MIHAN) in Nagpur.  

Speaking in Pune today, former Minister and Shiv Sena (Uddhav Balasaheb Thackeray) faction leader Aaditya Thackeray lambasted the government by remarking that no industrialist had any faith left in the Shinde-Fadnavis government. 

He further remarked, “Why is he (Samant) now saying that the project was not meant to come to Maharashtra when they had been trying to get it to Nagpur? Does it mean he has been lying all this while? No industrialist had any faith left in the Shinde-Fadnavis government. As a result, all industries and investment are moving to other states. Unlike (Madhya Pradesh CM) Shivraj Singh Chouhan and (Odisha CM) Naveen Patnaik, CM Eknath Shinde has not once bothered to visit other states to get investment here. Instead, our CM has only indulged in splitting the party and attending dahi handi festivals.”

Aaditya Thackeray further said that when the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) was in power, he, along with former Industries Minister Subhash Desai and ex-Energy Minister Nitin Raut had attended the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland where the State government had successfully signed agreements of investment commitments to the tune of Rs. 80,000 crores. 

He added, “When the MVA was in power, we had formed a committee to ensure ‘ease of compliance’ for business in order to retain industries within Maharashtra. But under the new ‘traitors’ government’ (referring to the Shinde-Fadnavis government), there has regrettably not been a single sitting of this committee.” 

Meanwhile, former Industries Minister Subhash Desai and Thackeray camp loyalists alleged that the Eknath Shinde-Devendra Fadnavis government was formed explicitly to “facilitate the exodus of all mega projects from Maharashtra to Gujarat.” He demanded to know why Shinde and Fadnavis remained silent on the Tata Airbus project moving out to neighbouring Gujarat.

The former Industries minister remarked, “The people of Maharashtra today have to pay the price for the BJP’s partisan politics. Why is it that all big projects from Maharashtra have been shifted to Gujarat in a span of just three to four months? Is it sheer coincidence? Or was there a strategy to dislodge the MVA government and replace it with the Shinde-Fadnavis government so that every project makes its way to Gujarat?” 

Arguing that not a single big project had landed in Maharashtra’s kitty since the formation of the new government, former Maharashtra CM and senior Congressman Prithviraj Chavan said there was a regrettable trend of every big-ticket project that was meant for some other State being spirited away to Gujarat ever since Prime Minister Narendra Modi came to power. 

Prithviraj Chavan added, “Previous PMs, be they Jawaharlal Nehru, Indira Gandhi or Rajiv Gandhi never played such politics whereby plum projects would be taken only to their constituencies. But this appears to be the trend under PM Modi. He must realize that he is not just the PM of Gujarat but the whole country.”  

NCP spokesperson Mahesh Tapase argued that it was the “sheer incompetence” of CM Shinde which was responsible for the loss of Tata-Airbus to Gujarat after Vedanta-Foxconn. He expressed astonishment that Shinde “repeatedly failed to retain investment and projects in Maharashtra.” 

The NCP spokesperson added, “Shinde is busy safeguarding his post of the chief minister even as Gujarat continues its surgical strike on Maharashtra… Taking a cue from Liz Truss (former United Kingdom prime minister), Shinde should immediately resign as CM for not being able to uphold the state’s interest.”

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