BY ANAND SINGH
New Delhi, May 21 (IANS) Even as the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government in Maharashtra completed six months in the state, former Chief Minister and BJP leader Devendra Fadnavis on Thursday targeted his successor Udhhav Thackarey, accusing him of being “indecisive” and more “dependent” on bureaucracy in leading the state amid the coronavirus pandemic.
He also said that reverse migration of the migrant workers from the state has posed a serious question on the future of industries in the state.
In a group interview with mediapersons via video conferencing on Thursday, Fadnavis said, “Maharashtra has the highest percentage of Covid-19 cases and the most number of deaths.”
Citing the numbers, the former Chief Minister said that about 31 per cent of Covid-19 patients in the country are from Maharashtra, while the state’s death toll makes for 40 per cent of the national fatality figures.
He also said that the condition in state capital Mumbai is going out of hands, as the number of cases is rising by the day.
Hitting out at the MVA government comprising the Shiv Sena, the Congress and the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), the BJP leader said that since the beginning, the government has been committing “strategic errors” in handling the Covid-19 pandemic in the state.
He said the state government could not manage the supply chain which led to delays in the distribution of ration to 3 crore ration card holders. He also said the MVA government made a mistake by deciding to provide cooked food to the migrant workers who did not have ration cards.
“Most of the migrant labourers in the state did not receive cooked food, which led to their reverse migration to their native places,” Fadnavis said.
Attacking the MVA government, Fadnavis alleged that the facilities in the quarantine centres were poor and the quality of food served in the isolation wards was very bad.
Blaming the state government for the rapid spread of the virus in areas such as the Dharavi, one of Asia’s biggest slums, he said, “The government has stopped testing asymptomatic people, those who have high risk of getting infected. And this is being done to slow the rate of Covid-19 cases in the state.”
He further alleged that the government was not allowing private labs to conduct Covid-19 tests and the four-five laboratories which were selected by the ICMR for conducting tests have been shut.
Responding to a question put forward by IANS on how he looks at the MVA government’s performance in handling the Covid-19 situation, Fadnavis slammed Chief Minister Thackarey and said, “He is new to the post and throughout this entire tenure, he has mostly been dependent on the bureaucracy. He is also a bit scared to take decisions.”
“At such a crucial time, he should have shown political leadership and taken decision himself without any fear,” he added.
Fadnavis also said that cracks have already started to show in the ruling coalition.
“As of now, we are not thinking about it… (about BJP returning to power in Maharashtra). Right now, all of us are battling the Covid-19 pandemic. Let the crisis get over, then we will see what we can do,” Fadnavis said, adding that he feels the government will fall apart as cracks are showing already.
Talking about reverse migration of workers from the state, the former Chief Minister said that the issue was worrisome.
“Migrant workers play a big role in the state’s industries. If all of them have gone to their native places, we fear whether they will come back. If they don’t come back to Maharashtra, it will have a big impact on the industries,” he said.
Fadnavis also said that the role of the migrant workers in the industries cannot be replaced instantly as the new workforce needs to be trained for the specific works.
Talking about halting the payment of the state’s share in the ambitious 508 km long Mumbai-Ahmedabad High Speed Rail Project that is popularly called the Bullet Train project, the BJP leader said, “Such steps break the confidence of the investors in the state. And if the state starts losing investors, it is a worrisome sign.”
As on Thursday, according to the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, the total number of Covid-19 cases in Maharashtra is 39,297 with 1,390 people falling prey to the dreaded virus. Out of the 39,297 cases, 10,318 people have been cured.
(Anand Singh can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)