Mumbai: In a sensational claim, which is expected to snowball into a major political controversy, BJP MP from Karnataka Anant Kumar Hegde has claimed that Devendra Fadnavis was sworn in as Maharashtra Chief Minister to prevent Central funds worth Rs 40,000 crore from being misused.
If Hegde's claim is true but which is yet to be corroborated, questions arise about the current status of these funds and how were they repatriated by Fadnavis within a couple of days.
There has to be some Maharashtra government order authorizing this transfer, it is pointed out. (Incidentally, Hegde has a track record of making controversial statements.)
Hegde claimed that it took Fadnavis just 15 hours to relocate the funds. All of it was repatriated to the central government, it has been further claimed.
The BJP leader also said that the entire "drama" to support a ‘minority’ government of Fadnavis was scripted and played out only to ‘appropriate’ the funds which belonged to the Centre.
This statement has surely embarrassed the state BJP and Fadnavis but it has helped in creating a perception that the Modi-Shah dispensation knew what it was doing all this while by propping up a ‘minority’ govern-ment and that they did not play into Sharad Pawar’s hands.
Responding to the claim, the Shiv Sena predictably said that Fadnavis' purport-ed act was a treachery against the State; the Sharad Pawar-led NCP, in turn, said PM Modi would have to resign, if there was any truth in the remarks.
Neither did the Centre ask for any funds, nor did the Maharashtra government repatriate them, Fadnavis asserted. "The claim is baseless and I refute it.
A central government company is implementing the bullet train project, where the Maharashtra government's role is restricted to land acquisition. Neither did the Centre ask for any funds, nor did the Maharashtra government send them back," he told reporters in Nagpur.
"Not a single rupee of Maharashtra government has been returned to the Centre from any other project either," Fadnavis said. "I have not taken any such policy decision during my tenure as chief minister or as caretaker CM.
Those who understand the accounting system of the Centre and states would know no such transfer of funds takes place," he said.
"This is an injustice to not just Maharashtra but to other states as well. People from Tamil Nadu, West Bengal, Odisha, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh and Kerala will not tolerate such injustice," NCP chief spokesperson Nawab Malik said.
Dubbing Fadnavis and the BJP as Maharashtra's "criminals", Sena MP Sanjay Raut said the state chief secretary should clarify on the issue.