Mumbai: The bitter war of words over the alleged ‘loss’ of the Rs. 1.5 lakh crore Vedanta-Foxconn project continues unabated as the opposition Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) on Wednesday cast doubts on the reply to the Right to Information (RTI) query which squarely blamed the erstwhile MVA government headed by Uddhav Thackeray of dragging its feet over the mega-investment project which led to its flight in neighbouring Gujarat.
Leaders from the MVA, Uddhav faction and the Congress expressed astonishment as to how a detailed response to the RTI, which was filed on October 31, was furnished by the Maharashtra Industries Development Corporation (MIDC) on the same day, given that responses to such queries generally take months.
The reply to the RTI query apparently stated that the high-powered committee on the Vedanta-Foxconn project which was constituted by the MVA did not meet for six months. The answer given by the MIDC was used by State Industries Minister Uday Samant to lash out at the MVA’s ineptitude in ‘losing’ the project.
Terming the swiftness of the MIDC’s response as “highly suspicious”, Thackeray faction Lok Sabha MP and former union minister Arvind Sawant remarked, “On October 31, a certain person Santosh Gawde seeks information on the project and gets the answer the very same day. How is it possible for the MIDC to furnish all this information on the same day given that usually answers to RTI queries on big projects take months? Who is this Gawde and why has he chosen this moment to awaken?”
Arguing that former MVA minister Aaditya Thackeray, while speaking to the media on Monday, had already spoken in detail about the efforts taken by the MVA to secure the project while giving a timeline, Sawant implied that the ruling BJP was behind the filing of the RTI and its response.
Sawant remarked further, “This is all done to mask the inefficacy of the present (Shinde-Fadnavis) government. If they have any guts, they ought to resign and contest elections.”
Echoing the sentiments of the Thackeray faction leader, Congress spokesperson Atul Londhe accused the Shinde-Fadnavis government of attempting to mislead the people of Maharashtra with such tactics.
The Congress spokesperson remarked, “The Vedanta Foxconn project has gone to Gujarat only because of the failure of the Shinde-Fadnavis government, but a desperate attempt is being made to blame it on the MVA government. Fadnavis gave false information on the project (while speaking to the media on Monday) and is again telling lies through this RTI incident. They are attempting to hide their mistakes.”
Londhe added that it was highly improper to play petty politics when the livelihoods and jobs of lakhs of people were at stake. He further added, “Instead of finger-pointing, it is high time the Shinde-Fadnavis government got their act together by getting some investment in an honest manner…if they do so, even we in opposition will support them.”
Put in a corner following the Opposition’s clamour over mega-investment projects shifting to other states, notably Gujarat, Minister for Industries, Uday Samant earlier had announced that the government would, in a month’s time, come out with a White Paper giving all the information on the industrial investment received by the state since the formation of the MVA in 2019.
Uday Samant said that the paper would detail all communications made by the Industries department and the MIDC with foreign firms regarding big-ticket projects and details of meetings held at the World Economic Forum (WEF) held in Davos among other things.