‘Politics first, state second’: Shinde-Fadnavis face Opposition heat for curtailing Davos visit

While CM Eknath Shinde has curtailed his visit to the World Economic Forum, Devendra Fadnavis cancelled it to oversee preparations for PM Modi’s Mumbai visit on January 19.

Maharashtra CM Eknath Shinde and Deputy CM Devendra Fadnavis (Express file Photo)
Maharashtra CM Eknath Shinde and Deputy CM Devendra Fadnavis (Express file Photo)

Maharashtra Chief Minister Eknath Shinde and his deputy Devendra Fadnavis have come under criticism from the Opposition in Maharashtra for cutting short their visit to the World Economic Forum in Davos in order to be present in the state for Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to the state on January 9. While Fadnavis cancelled his trip altogether, CM Shinde curtailed it and will return to Mumbai on January 18, a day ahead of the PM’s arrival.

The Prime Minister is scheduled to inaugurate a slew of big-ticket developmental projects in the state ahead of the crucial BMC elections a few months from now. The Mumbai visit will also be Modi’s first after the Shinde-Fadnavis government took over the reins in the state.

The visit by Maharashtra’s top leadership to the forum was seen as crucial to drawing investments to the state. The decision by the top functionaries to cancel or curtail their visit has drawn flak from the Opposition which alleged the government of prioritising politics over development.

“The Maharashtra government is not serious about investment. Heads of all the states of the country are going to Davos to invite investors. The Gujarat CM will also go there. But the CM and Dy CM of Maharashtra feel that the PM’s visit for the BMC elections is more important,” Sanjay Raut, Rajya Sabha MP and spokesperson for the Uddhav Thackeray faction of the Shiv Sena said.

“Whether it’s Shinde or Fadnavis, they seem to have only one policy, politics first. The state always comes second. Maharashtra is going down in terms of investment. It should be taken care of. The Prime Minister will keep coming and going. But there is only one agenda of this visit which is to win the forthcoming BMC elections and defeat us, the Shiv Sena,” Raut added.

The criticism comes following Maharashtra losing out to big-ticket projects to Gujarat, developments that the Opposition has labelled as part of a deliberate plan by the BJP-ruled central government. Some of the big-ticket projects that were expected to come Maharashtra’s way, but went to Gujarat instead, included mega investments like Vedanta Foxconn and Tata Airbus.

“Since the Shinde-Fadnavis government has come to power, Maharashtra has lost big investment projects to neighbouring states. The investor sentiment in Maharashtra has been down since the formation of this government. Now that the Dy CM has opted out, and only CM Shinde will be going to Davos to attend the World Economic Forum, the CM should declare beforehand how much investment he will be bringing in for the state and how many jobs will be created. The government should work hard on winning investments by creating an environment of trust amongst the business community,” said Nationalist Congress Party leader and spokesperson Mahesh Tapase.

Meanwhile, the BJP and the Shinde Sena downplayed the criticism and said that the claims by Raut will fall flat. “The CM and the Dy CM were going to Davos to sign agreements for the benefit of Maharashtra, so they will do it. Sanjay Raut will fall flat on his face when he sees the kind of investment they bring back to the country. Serving Mumbaikars is also a priority and the government is doing the work on both fronts. Sanjay Raut is doing nothing but just criticising for the sake of criticising, since he has no work left,” said BJP leader and MLA Ashish Shelar.

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First published on: 16-01-2023 at 14:04 IST
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