Unperturbed by allegations, BJP to make irrigation creation a poll plank
Gadkari & Fadnavis plan to construct incomplete projects ahead of polls to win over voters
The day the NCP accused the government of irregularities in approving escalated cost of Rs 40,000 crore in 317 irrigation projects in the past three years, the BJP has decided to make its work in water resources a political plank in 2019 polls.
Senior party leaders, union water resources and transport minister Nitin Gadkari and CM Devendra Fadnavis, told party MPs in New Delhi on Thursday that they would get the remaining irrigation projects completed in next two years, and that accomplishment should be a tool to impress voters, who were denied water for agriculture in the NCP-Congress regime of 15 years.
NCP which is become over-aggressive against BJP in recent times, has questioned the government over increased cost. NCP's own ministers had faced charges of approving escalated cost. Party's spokesperson Nawab Malik demanded an explanation from Fadnavis, who, when in opposition, was on forefront in accusing NCP ministers of corruption.
"We spent Rs 46,000 cr in 53 years of our rule on irrigation projects, but the then opposition accused us of splurging Rs 70,000 cr. Do revised approvals that the BJP government has given also amount to corruption. We doubt the cost escalation was allowed to benefit contractors close to BJP leaders," said Malik on Thursday.
In response to Malik, state water resources minister minister Girish Mahajan said the revised approvals were given to rectify wrong doings of NCP. "Further delay on our part would have denied much-needed water to our distressed farmers," he said.
-Let's do it, say Gadkari & Fadnavis
While Malik made these allegations, Gadkari and Fadnavis were in a conclave with party MPs and ministers in Delhi. They suggested that welfare schemes such as farm loan waiver, Jalyukta Shivar and completed irrigation projects should be a potent material for election campaign in 2019.
Gadkari's role in improving state's irrigation has become pivotal after taking over as water resources minister in the Modi cabinet. He has embarked on a mission to get as much funds from the Centre for accelerating creation of water storage in Maharashtra.
Fadnavis is reported to have told the gathering that delayed irrigation projects were NCP's collective sin and it was pertinent for BJP government to complete them at any cost. He said the state would face no difficulty for us as long as Gadkari headed the union ministry. "We will complete 107 delayed projects within two years. This will crate enormous kind of water storage and distribution network," he said.
According to information, 26 big projects are already under the Centre's PM scheme which a grant of Rs 16,000 cr has been approved. Of this, Rs 756 cr have been already received. These projects spread over drought-affected areas of Marathwada, Vidarbha and North Maharashtra, where agrarian crisis has created some unrest among farmers.
"Considering what we faced in Gujarat's rural areas in view of agrarian crisis, and the issues that are of similar kind in Maharashtra, we need to prepare ourselves to face the voters in coming years. Giving farmers, industry and cities water through irrigation projects should be an appealing addition to our 'Vikas' (development) plank," said a senior BJP MP, who comes from Vidarbha.
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