Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis on Saturday appealed to writers and thinkers to not return their awards. “Criticise the government freely, but don’t return your awards. We welcome your criticism. It is your job to put forth the people’s point of view. But nothing will be achieved by returning awards. We are willing to return the awards to the writers,” he said. He was talking to journalists on the occasion of completion of one year of the BJP-Sena government in Maharashtra.
He also claimed that the environment in the State was free and fair. “All the activists, journalists, writers can write freely, say what they want to. The State is safe. There is no threat to anybody,” he claimed. He also denied allegations that Mumbai was becoming unsafe and that the rate of crime was mounting in his home town Nagpur.
“In fact, during our tenure, the rate of conviction has jumped up from a mere nine per cent to 42 per cent. It is not true that Mumbai is unsafe. Soon, 1400 CCTV cameras will go live within the next few months in the city. By the end of 2016, 6000 CCTV cameras will be functional in Mumbai. This will make it the world’s first city to be monitored by so many digital eyes,” he said.
IGNORES QUESTIONS ON SENA
A day after launching a scathing attack on the Shiv Sena leaders including Uddhav Thackeray, Fadnavis on Saturday chose to keep mum about any questions on differences with the Shiv Sena. When asked about his aggressive speech in Kalyan Dombivali, he retorted, “Was I aggressive? I don’t remember.”
The Sena leaders including Uddhav Thackeray, Ramdas Kadam had made scathing comments against BJP. Ramdas Kadam went to the extent of making insulting personal comments against Fadnavis. The phenomenal level of mudslinging led to rife speculations amid political circles about the future of the alliance.
But just a day after aggressively responding to the Sena criticism, Fadnavis on Saturday even refused to acknowledge questions about Sena and the alliance. “I have not done any mudslinging on anyone and there has been no mudslinging on me,” he said.
He also countered a journalist who asked if any action will be taken against Uddhav Thackeray for instigating violence when ex-foreign minister of Pakistan had visited Mumbai. The Sena had blackened the face of organiser Sudheendra Kulkarni over the issue. The Sena chief had congratulated the Sainiks who were involved in the act. But on Saturday, Fadnavis refused to take any cognisance of the questions raised over it.
“It is easy to make allegations. What evidence do you have to level such allegations? Tomorrow, you will accuse Narendra Modi of doing something. You can’t speak in the air. Where is evidence against him? Give it to me,” he told the journalist.
OPEN CHALLENGE TO NCP
Fadnavis gave an open challenge to NCP and dared the party to submit any shred of evidence against him. “NCP has levelled allegations that Mr Fadnavis sits in five-star hotels in Mumbai and Pune and brokers deals with businessmen and builders,” a journalist asked.
Visibly upset over the comment, he dared the party to submit the alleged CCTV footage of such “meetings”. “They should either submit such CCTV footage or any other evidence, or they should publically apologise to me,” he said.
The Maharashtra government on Saturday announced two schemes for affordable housing and maternity care each. Fadnavis said that by 2016, construction of at least three lakh affordable houses will begin in Mumbai and its satellite cities.
Also, targeting the maternal health in the tribal belt, he announced meal programme for tribal women. “During the last trimester and the first three months after delivery, a tribal woman will be given full meal throughout the period. There is stunted growth of children in that belt. We realised, it was because of maternal malnourishment. Till now, we have given nutritional supplements. But they don’t mean much in a scene of lack of basic food,” he said.
The State will also provide houses to 2.30 lakh tribal families without any preconditions. “Every year, we will construct 25,000 new houses. Moreover, we will pay money to Dalit families to buy land and construct houses. No conditions will be levied for that,” he said.