The political slugfest over the alleged ‘loss’ of the ₹1.5 lakh crore Vedanta-Foxconn project continued unrestrained with the Opposition Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) on Wednesday casting aspersions on a Right to Information (RTI) query whose reply allegedly accused the erstwhile MVA government headed by Uddhav Thackeray of dragging its feet over the mega-investment project which led to its flight to neighbouring Gujarat.
MVA leaders from the Uddhav faction and the Congress expressed incredulity 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 said 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 alacrity of the MIDC’s response as “highly suspicious”, Thackeray faction MP Arvind Sawant said: “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?”
Stating that Aaditya Thackeray, in a press conference on Monday, had already spoken in a detailed manner on the efforts taken by the MVA to secure the project while giving a timeline, Mr. Sawant implied that the ruling BJP was behind the filing of the RTI and its response.
“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,” said Mr. Sawant.
Echoing the Thackeray faction leader, Congress spokesman Atul Londhe accused the Shinde-Fadnavis government of attempting to mislead the people of Maharashtra with such tactics.
“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. Mr. Fadnavis gave false information on the project [during a press conference on Monday] and is again telling lies through this RTI incident. They are attempting to hide their mistakes,” Mr. Londhe said.
He said it was highly improper to play petty politics when livelihoods and jobs of lakhs of people were at stake.
“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,” said the Congress leader.
Put in a spot following the Opposition’s clamour over mega-investment projects shifting to other States, notably Gujarat, Mr. Samant earlier announced that the present government would, in a month’s time, come out with a White Paper giving all information on the industrial investment received by the State since 2019 – the formation of the MVA.
Mr. 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 in Davos among other things.