Sharad Pawar asks Modi to leave Mumbai development to CM, Maha govt

Mumbai: NCP chief Sharad Pawar today said the Prime Minister Narendra Modi should not head the proposed high-level committee for the development of Mumbai.

"You are a strong proponent of good governance, Mr Prime Minister. May I request you in the name of good governance not to accept this responsibility for the development of Mumbai and to place it squarely where it belongs: on the shoulders of the CM, the government and people of Maharashtra," Pawar said in a letter to Modi.

"There are certain issues between Maharashtra and Gujarat on which both the states differ in opinions and interests. In such a situation, any proposal suggested by CM of Maharashtra will create misunderstanding between people of the two states. I will be the last person who will be happy to see this," Pawar said.

Sharad Pawar. Pic/Getty Images

"The issue being of such an importance, concerning federal nature of the Republic of India, I am sharing my views and contents of this letter with some important political leaders and thinkers of Maharashtra," Pawar added. Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis had recently said that there was an urgent need for effective coordination between state and central agencies for the  development of the megapolis, and for which "it will be appropriate to set up a Mumbai development committee headed by the PM".

"The Constitution...has clearly defined the sphere of authority and responsibility of the Union Government and State
Governments," Pawar said in the letter. "We have both been Chief Ministers of two vibrant and developed states of the Union and are very familiar with the fierceness with which state autonomy is defended," he said.

"The Maharashtra Chief Minister at the meeting of State Chief Ministers with you...strongly made a case for active decentralisation at the regional level...This was a very positive stand....Then, in an inexplicable aberration, he suggests that for the development of the city of Mumbai alone there should be a committee headed by the PM."

"During the ongoing Nagpur session, according to media reports he has actually appointed such a committee headed by the Prime Minister....So far the media has not been able to inform us about the constitution of the Committee, its terms of reference, its power...and what will be its role and equation vis-a-vis the Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai," said the NCP chief.

"This local body has a budget larger than that of some of the states and is fully authorised to govern the city." The decision should have been discussed in the state cabinet. The views of partner in the government (Shiv Sena), which also controls MCGM, are nowhere on record, "neither in favour or in opposition", said the former union minister.

Also, as per the protocol, before making announcement of any such committee involving the PM, the state should have discussed the issue with the PMO, he said. Mentioning that Mumbai was "won" for Maharashtra, when the state was formed, "at the cost of many lives," Pawar asserted that all these years there has been no reason to think that the state government or the local body "have stood in the way of the city's development".

Admitting that local politics had taken a toll on the city's development, Pawar said that however "solution can not be found in Delhi" for local problems. The state government can not shirk the responsibility of governing, he said in the letter to Modi, adding that to think that there were no thinkers or planners in Maharashtra to help sort out the city's problems was "to insult all of Maharashtra".

Issues pertaining to the state and stuck at the Central level can be solved by a follow-up by the Chief Minister and not by having the PM heading a committee, Pawar said. "As the Prime Minister your responsibility is the whole country, so the question arises why only Mumbai, why not Chennai or Shillong or Delhi...Even Gandhinagar?" he asked.

"He (Fadnavis) has asked people not to play politics with Mumbai's development. If I did not have such a high personal regard for the new Chief Minister, I would say that it is he who is playing politics with Mumbai," Pawar said, adding that he would not accuse him of trying to hand over control over Mumbai to Delhi ahead of the local elections after two years, because "I know Devendra is a very proud Maharashtrian".

The letter is in the nature of "an appeal to your good sense and judgement", Pawar said, adding that Modi's hands must be "more than full" and "even a man with your commendable energy can only keep pace with the issues on hand". "You are a seasoned political leader and I believe that as we grow older one of our main duties is to train and guide the next generation of politicians to govern this great country well. May I strongly urge you to guide the new Chief Minister of Maharashtra in his new role by explaining why setting up of this committee is both impractical and undesirable," he said.

The copies of the letter have been sent to Union Ministers Rajnath Singh, Arun Jaitley, Venkaiah Naidu, Nitin Gadkari, Suresh Prabhu, Anant Geete, and Prakash Javadekar.

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