Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray yesterday accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi of being on a “centralisation spree” as he criticised demonetisation and Goods and Services Tax (GST). Thackeray, whose party is a constituent of the BJP-led NDA government at the Centre and in Maharashtra, said reforms are a must, “but one should pause” to review their impact. In an interview to Sena mouthpiece ‘Saamna’, he said that going by government advertisements, one would get a feeling that everything was hunky-dory, but one should check the ground reality.
Talking about the GST which was rolled out on July one and the Sena’s reservations on it, he said, “Should we centralise or decentralise? Rajiv Gandhi had introduced autonomy through the Panchayati Raj when he was the prime minister. Narendra Modi has taken away the autonomy and is on a centralisation spree.” Thackeray said if governance depends “only on the will of whoever is the prime minister”, then does India really have a democracy?
“Do people’s views have any value?….Reforms are a must, but one should also pause from time-to-time and review their impact,” he said.
“I read somewhere that 15 lakh people lost their jobs in the four months after demonetisation. It means 60 lakh families were affected. It happened only due to the notes ban (demonetisation). What happened to those who lost their jobs is the government’s responsibility,” he added. Referring to the Centre’s initiatives aimed at job creation such as ‘Start-up India’ and ‘Make-in-India’, Thackeray wondered how did one reconcile them with demonetisation and its effects. He also said the Sena would not shy away from “exposing” the BJP-led Maharashtra government, if it failed to implement the loan waiver scheme in the state properly.
Claiming that the Sena was the first to raise the issue of farm loan waiver when Sharad Pawar was the Union agriculture minister, Thackeray said, “Maharashtra was at the top in farmer suicides and unfortunately, it is still there. This was not an area where we should have been at the top.” He said he had asked Sena workers to beat drums outside banks (as part of an agitation) and make them display the list of beneficiaries of farm loan waiver.
Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis had, on June 24, announced a loan waiver to the tune of Rs 34,022 crore following a statewide agitation by farmers. On July 9, Fadnavis had said the entire debt of around 36 lakh farmers in the state would be waived. Thackeray said, “The state had said the entire loan of 36 lakh farmers would be waived, while 89 lakh farmers would benefit from the scheme. I want to see their names.”
Reminding the state government of its proposal to give Rs 10,000 to every farmer till the loan waiver scheme was worked for buying seeds and fertilisers, he claimed that only around 2,500 people had received the payments, even though more than a month had passed since the announcement was made. Thackeray asked, “If this is not chaos, then what is?” He claimed that no bank had so far received clear instructions about how to grant waiver.