The Vedanta-Foxconn deal is getting murkier by the day, with the government and opposition engaged in allegations and counter-allegations.
The latest in the controversy is a letter Chief Minister Eknath Shinde had written to Vedanta chairman Anil Agarwal on July 26, as reported by the Indian Express, which said, "...(your) two key requests from the state are to seek central government alignment and cabinet approval. You will be pleased to know that on both fronts, the state is already in advanced stages and is moving ahead expeditiously." But even as the state tried to lure Vedanta, the company chose Gujarat. The CM's letter, which has been leaked, puts the onus on Vedanta and absolves the state government.
However, Aditya Thackeray, former minister of Maharashtra and scion of the Thackeray family, attacked the government on Twitter. He said that "...the current dispensation announced in the assembly that the project in coming to Maharashtra on 25-26th July," squarely blaming the Shinde government for the loss of the project and one lakh jobs.
After the project was awarded to Gujarat, there were huge protests in Maharashtra, where the project was originally proposed.
What happened earlier?
The Uddhav Thackeray-led MVA government and incumbent CM Shinde tried their best to win the multi-crore project that would have helped boost Maharashtra's sagging economy.
Shiv Sena leader Aaditya Thackeray had earlier too pinned the blame on Shinde-led government for losing the project. He said, "Although I'm glad to see this in India, I am also a little bit shocked. For a project almost finalised, and a new dispensation claiming credit over it, only shows lack of commitment from the new dispensation for our State's progress."
Responding to the Opposition's attacks, Shinde had said in his defence, "We came to power only two months ago. Vedanta Foxconn did not get the desired response from the earlier (MVA) government."
Taking to Twitter, Vedanta's Agarwal clarified why he chose Gujarat by saying, "This is a scientific and financial process which takes several years. We started this about 2 years ago. We decided (on) Gujarat (a) few months ago as they met our expectations. We are committed to investing in Maharashtra. We will soon create a hub where Maharashtra will be part of our forward integration."
What happens now?
The report published by The Indian Express additionally reveals that CM Shinde strived hard to win the futuristic project by promising to fulfil Vedanta's two key requests—Central (BJP-led) government alignment, and state Cabinet approval—before finalising the location of its Rs 1.5 lakh crore semiconductor facility in Talegaon, which is a proposed site near Pune.
When Industries Minister Uday Samat was asked what happened after the letter, he said that, looking at Agarwal's tweet, it is believed that Vedanta had already made up its mind to invest in Gujarat.
He also revealed that CM Shinde had spoken to Prime Minister Narendra Modi after Gujarat bagged the project. He said that PM Modi has assured the state that it will get a similar project or even a better one.