Editorial: Pointless wrangling over ‘lost’ projects

FPJ EditorialUpdated: Monday, October 31, 2022, 12:58 PM IST
article-image
Representative Photo | File

Yet another big-ticket project has gone to Gujarat. Last week’s announcement by the Central Government that the Rs 21,935-crore Tata-Airbus military transport aircraft manufacturing unit is to be set up in Vadodara has caused much consternation in political circles in Maharashtra. The ruling Eknath Shinde Government was clearly on the back foot, ‘losing’ the second big-investment project in a matter of a few weeks. Earlier the Rs 156,000-crore Vedanta-Foxconn semiconductor project had gone to Gujarat.

In both cases, the Maharashtra Government had made a strong pitch for these projects to be set up within its geographical borders. In fact, the previous Uddhav Thackeray Government had sought to engage with the promoters of the Vedanta-Foxconn project, but no decision was forthcoming till the fall of the MVA government. The Shinde-BJP government too made efforts to woo the promoters of the iconic project but to no avail. Aside from reducing the near-total dependence on imported chips, the Vedanta-Foxconn project will generate thousands of job opportunities and create a thriving ancillary sector of medium and small industries in the region. As for the Tata-Airbus project, the number of jobs to be created may be much lower but its impact on the region’s economy will be hugely positive. In other words, the loss of the two projects is a case of missed opportunities for Maharashtra.

Having said this, it is grossly unfair to blame the Shinde Sena-BJP government for the two projects not coming to Maharashtra. Indeed, had the MVA been power at this juncture it too would have failed to persuade the promoters of the two projects to locate these in Maharashtra. For the promoters are more likely to heed the advice of the Central Government, the chief sanctioning authority, than a state Government regardless of the latter’s political colour. A mere cue from a central Government functionary would be enough for the promoters to finalise the location as per his wishes than all the combined efforts of a state Government. Such projects rely more on central sanctions rather than those of state Governments. Besides, there can be no denying that as against Maharashtra, Gujarat has a better record on industrial relations as also on most parameters of the ease-of-doing-business index. Why, the trade unions affiliated to the Opposition MVA alliance are not particularly known for their peaceful ways of collective bargaining with mill owners. Given the bitter feud between the rival Shiv Senas, it would be natural for any promoter to choose a state which has enjoyed a long period of relative peace on the industrial front.

Quite aside from the above factors, the most important reason why these projects have gone to Gujarat is the coming Assembly polls. Given that the BJP is in power both in New Delhi and Gandhinagar, it is natural for the Centre to nudge the promoters, that is, in case they actually needed some nudging, especially when their antennae are always attuned to the central leaders’ wishes. Investors of such high magnitude are always good at second-guessing top ministers. With the Prime Minister and Home Minister hailing from Gujarat, winning the coming Assembly election is a matter of prestige. Directing such a big investment, which holds the promise of generating tens of thousands of direct and indirect jobs besides boosting the economy of Gujarat, is certainly a booster for the BJP on the campaign trail. In fact, the more the MVA blames the Shinde-Fadnavis government for ‘losing’ the two projects the more it boosts the BJP prospects in Gujarat. Small wonder then that the other two constituents of the MVA, the Congress and the NCP, are somewhat muted in blaming the Shinde Government for a decision over which it had no control.

In other words, partisan point-scoring over the location of big-investment projects ought to cease. The thing to remember is that whether it is Gujarat or Maharashtra, the ultimate beneficiary is the entire country. At one level, it is good to see various states competing for big projects, offering all manner of sops to locate high-valued projects within their borders. But the spirit of federalism demands that after a decision is taken all recriminations must stop, and the states cooperate in ensuring success of such projects in order to foster a healthy industrial and investment culture in the country.

(To receive our E-paper on whatsapp daily, please click here. To receive it on Telegram, please click here. We permit sharing of the paper's PDF on WhatsApp and other social media platforms.)

RECENT STORIES

Editorial: Invincible in Gujarat, vulnerable elsewhere

Editorial: Invincible in Gujarat, vulnerable elsewhere

Four legs good, two legs doubtful

Four legs good, two legs doubtful

Smog over the city hides the silent public health emergency

Smog over the city hides the silent public health emergency

Editorial: Another washed-out Parliament session?

Editorial: Another washed-out Parliament session?

Temple Run heralds interesting times for the Congress

Temple Run heralds interesting times for the Congress