Independent Vidarbha is our permanent promise: CM Devendra Fadnavis

On the fourth anniversary of the Bharatiya Janata Party-led government, Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, in one of the interviews with The Free Press Journal, spoke to Vivek Bhavsar and Neeta Kolhatkar, on raging political issues — independent Vidarbha, alliance politics with the Shiv Sena and also blamed urban Naxals for the Bhima-Koregaon riots, saying they have given “more information on Sanatan to the central government”.

What happened to that one poll promise of independent Vidarbha you had made? 

That was not a poll promise. It is an ideology of our party and it is our permanent promise. However, the state government can do nothing about it, it is the central government responsible for the decision.

In the Dr Narendra Dabholkar and Govind Pansare murder cases, Maharashtra police had made no breakthrough in five years, the Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) have made arrests this year, though your critics have said, these arrests were made under pressure from Karnataka police. 

What is the connection of Karnataka government or police into our investigations? The Maharashtra ATS has taken action, they have investigated this case and made all the arrests. In fact, we have supplied more evidence to Karnataka police, which they needed. For all the unearthing of links, credit should be given to Maharashtra ATS.

What is your government’s stand on Sanatan organisation? 
As regards Sanatan, a proposal is pending with the central government. This proposal was sent by the previous Congress-Nationalist Congress Party government. Some additional information has been sent by us and more information is being collated. My stand is absolutely clear, whether it is extreme right, extreme left, whatever be the ideology, right of centre or left of centre, any person or group who works against the country and is socially disruptive, we will not hesitate to take action against the people involved.

Speaking of the Bhima-Koregaon case, none of the affidavits submitted to the inquiry commission, including those by Pune rural police have supported the government claim, the riots were started by Elgar Parishad. If it is an assassination plot as it is being made out to be, why is a lower-ranking officer investigating this case and not the ATS?

Firstly, the information about the affidavits is wrong. All affidavits have been filed with the commission and information regarding the ‘larger plot’ too has been submitted to the commission. Secondly, the investigations in this case are not being carried out by a lower-ranking officer. A commissioner at the ADG level, who is one of the seniormost ranking officers, is heading this team. There is a commissioner, additional commissioner and other officers who are tracking the entire case.

Now, if the entire investigation is being done by police, they have shown the link of the bigger plot and that has been accepted by the Supreme Court. What is the need to prove it or give it to any other authority? When do we give it to any other agency — when the police have shown incompetency, do not have the specialisation or have failed to investigate thoroughly. Here the Pune police have fulfilled all the criteria, so there is no need to hand over the investigation to any other agency.

Is there a deadlock with the Shiv Sena, your alliance partner? Constantly there is a ping-pong match between the two parties in public, though you both have the same ideology. Will the BJP not ally with the NCP?

I speak to Uddhavji, the chief of Sena, regularly. Our joint talks are yet to begin officially, but in between, we have spoken on certain issues. We are yet to initiate dedicated talks to bring it to a conclusive end, which we will do. We have taken the initiative and we are not hesitant. The political scenario of our state today is, the Congress-NCP and their allies have come together.

They have consolidated the vote bank of opposition. The Sena and the BJP are close ideologically, so a major chunk of the vote bank is common. So, if two of our candidates contest, people will get confused and it will be a huge setback politically, for both the  parties. The Sena and the BJP are two separate parties. They have their opinions and we have ours, we do not have to be in sync on all issues, else we would have merged into one party.

We have our differences — the BJP does not speak in public, they do, it’s that simple. Still, we have been together in government for four years and every decision has been taken unanimously. Giving speeches in rallies or writing in Saamna has no impact on the running of the government.

The government runs in the Cabinet and there has been no hindrance on that front. Cabinet meetings have been running smoothly, as per the agenda and without any disruption. There is no decision taken in the cabinet where we needed to use vote, all have been taken unanimously. There is no question of allying with the NCP. I totally, 100 percent, rule out this idea.

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