Mumbai: NCP President  Sharad Pawar addressing the media at New Rashtravadi Bhavan, Thakersey House, in Mumbai on Tuesday.  PTI Photo (PTI10_3_2017_000149B)
Mumbai: NCP President Sharad Pawar addressing the media at New Rashtravadi Bhavan, Thakersey House, in Mumbai on Tuesday. PTI Photo (PTI10_3_2017_000149B)

Mumbai: Sharad Pawar, chief of the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), took on Prime Minister Narendra Modi for the slowdown of economy. Pawar alleged Modi’s bad decisions of demonetisation and implementation of Goods and Services Tax (GST) has led to increased unemployment. Pawar also opposed Modi’s ambitious bullet train project.

Speaking for the first time from the new party office, Pawar said, “The investment climate in the country is not good today which is proving a deterrent to investments. The ‘Make in India’ slogan seemed attractive initially but the hollowness has begun to show now.”

He added, “The decisions of demonetisation and GST taken by PM Modi without adequate preparedness has taken a heavy toll on our economy.” Pawar also criticised the Centre over the rising incidents of terror in Kashmir and said there are lacuna in the policies adopted by the government in the valley. “The government should have demonstrated its willingness to resolve issues through a process of dialogue,” he said.

The Rajya Sabha member refused to comment on the statement of Mohan Bhagawat, Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), on the alleged terrorism of Left parties in Kerala where NCP is the ruling partner. “I don’t take his comments seriously,” he said.

Pawar opposed Modi’s ambitious bullet train project saying that technology and modernisation should be cost effective. “I think a bullet train is required between Mumbai and Delhi or Delhi and Kolkata or Mumbai and Chennai. A bullet train between Mumbai and Ahmedabad is impractical. I do not know what is the purpose of this project. Maharashtra has barely got four stations while most are in Gujarat and yet Maharashtra has to bear equal cost for this project,” he said.

Pawar clarified that he is not against Gujarat reaping benefits, but the bullet train project would be of no benefit to Maharashtra. “Instead, the government should have taken steps to improvise railway services in Mumbai and Maharashtra,” he said.

Pawar, in a sarcastic jibe to Railway minister Piyush Goyal, said, “I thought he would have more knowledge on Mumbai’s local train issues as he belongs to this city. Lal Bahadur Shastri had resigned after a train accident. I expected the same action from the Railway minister but it did not happen.” Pawar displayed a video clip of Modi, in which the Prime Minister was seen saying that a bullet train is just to showcase the country’s strength and that he knew nobody would travel in the train.

Pawar also announced that his party would take a call on an agitation over the government’s announcement of a loan waiver for farmers. “The chief minister has said that farmers will get a loan waiver by Diwali. But, if that does not happen, we will start an agitation after November 5. There will be a meeting in Aurangabad on November 5 in this regard. We will take the decision at the meeting,” he said.

Pawar said he has received various suggestions pertaining to the proposed agitation on loan waiver. “It includes non-cooperation movement and whether or not farmers should pay taxes to the government,” he said.

He claimed that the loan waiver amount would not go beyond Rs 12,000 crore because most farmers will not be eligible for the scheme due to government’s impractical norms. When asked to comment on former Chief Minister Narayan Rane’s decision to launch a new party, Pawar said, “He (Rane) could not even induct his own son in his party. What more can I say about it?” mocked Pawar.

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