Mumbai: Ally, Opposition together power criticism of MVA
Congress ministers feel their depts are not getting funds; BJP claims energy minister is blaming previous govt to mask his failings
The Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government's refusal to fulfill the promise of discounted electricity bills and providing free power supply of 100 units per connection, has agitated smaller allies of the ruling combination and the BJP. The latter said energy minister Nitin Raut was shifting blame to the previous government for masking his inability to live up to consumer expectations. The dispute has also shown cracks in the MVA because the Congress ministers felt that their departments were not getting funds.
Raut said on Tuesday that the government was economically weaker to deliver the promise to the electricity consumers. While receiving flak from aggrieved people and parties, the minister said on Wednesday that the state-owned distribution company, Maharashtra State Electricity Distribution Company Limited, was in financial distress because it did not recover R50,000 crore from the consumers. He also blamed the Centre for offering Maharashtra a loan at heavy interest rate instead of extending free financial aid in the time of distress.
Energy minister Nitin Raut said on Wednesday that the state-owned distribution company was in financial distress because it did not recover Rs 50,000 crore from the consumers
MVA's ally and farmers' leader Raju Shetti came down heavily on the government for betraying the people. He threatened a stir through his Swabhimani Paksh (Shetkari Sanghtana). "The energy minister should seek permission from his bosses before making any promises. He should not make irresponsible statements. We will give a fitting reply to the company if the connections are cut for not paying the bills. We will not pay bills, come what may. We will protest in the streets if the issue is not resolved," Shetti said from Kolhapur.
MVA breached trust: Fadnavis
Opposition leader Devendra Fadnavis said the state company was among top three utilities in the country and could bear the financial burden. "The minister made an announcement after the Cabinet meeting that a decision was made. He boasted about it on billboards. But now he is blaming the wrong people. He doesn't study the department or has given wrong information. The BJP made the state company a formidable one. Chandrashekhar Bawankule, who led the department then, has published papers on the company's strength," said Fadnavis, adding that the Centre had offered a special debt package, but the MVA government refused it.
Maharashtra Navnirman Sena chief Raj Thackeray has summoned his deputies from all across the state to formulate a state-wide stir against the government. Raj has been leading the consumer protest in Mumbai and has written to the chief minister for resolving the distress.
Vanchit Bahujan Aghadi president Prakash Ambedkar appealed to consumers to not pay bills before the government decides on the matter. His party workers staged protests in many places.
The development has shifted focus to the Congress ministers' grievance that their proposals are not given due importance and assistance from the other powerful constituents of MVA. Raut had made the announcement of supplying free power much before the lockdown impacted the state finances and moved the proposal to the finance department which turned it down citing acute financial crunch and issues related to private electricity companies.
A senior Congress leader said that their party was cornered because even essential financial assistance was hard to come to their departments even as other parties were given financial packages. "A grant of R2,000 cr could have helped the energy department in giving some relief to the distressed consumers, but it didn't happen," he said.
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