After Tata-Airbus Project Goes to Gujarat, Maharashtra Opposition Decries Losing Yet Another Deal


New Delhi: Shiv Sena MLA Aaditya Thackeray has slammed the Eknath Shinde-led Maharashtra government for once again letting a lucrative project slip as news broke that the Rs 22,000 crore Tata-Airbus C-295 manufacturing project would be coming up in Gujarat and not Maharashtra..

Last month, the Sena (Uddhav Balasaheb Thackeray) leader had come down heavily on the Maharashtra government for “losing out” on the Rs 1.54 lakh crore Vedanta-Foxconn venture which also went to Gujarat, despite the previous Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government in Maharashtra reportedly having brought the negotiations for the project to the “final stage”.

Saying that the Tata-Airbus project, too, was supposed to come up in Maharashtra, Thackeray accused the Shinde government of not being serious about the state’s progress and criticised it for “failing to protect the state’s interests”.

The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in Maharashtra, however, countered him saying that the previous Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government did not do anything to follow up on the proposed project.

A consortium of Airbus and the Tata group will manufacture C-295 transport aircraft for the Indian Air Force (IAF) in Vadodara in Gujarat, the Defence ministry said on Thursday, announcing the Rs 22,000 crore project where a military plane will be produced in India for the first time by a private company. 

Prime Minister Narendra Modi will on Sunday lay the foundation stone for the manufacturing facility of the European defence giant and the Indian conglomerate, in what is being billed as a major boost to India’s domestic aerospace sector.

However, in September, Shinde loyalist and Maharashtra industries minister Uday Samant had said that the Tata-Airbus aircraft manufacturing project would come up near Nagpur in the Vidarbha region of Maharashtra.

Speaking to reporters in Pune, Thackeray asked, “Will the state government give answers to why these projects are going out? This is the fourth project which has gone away from Maharashtra since the traitor government has come to power in the state. They always boast that they have a double-engine government, but although one engine of the central government is working, the state government’s engine has failed.”

Thackeray was in Shirur to inspect the losses that farmers have suffered due to heavy rains.

He added that the previous MVA government led by his father Uddhav Thackeray had managed to bring investment to the state even during the pandemic, but this government has failed to do so.

“CM Shinde goes to Delhi on a regular basis. But he goes there for himself and not for Maharashtra. I never heard him saying that the Tata-Airbus project should come to Maharashtra. Projects including Vedanta Foxconn, Bulk Drug Park, Medical Device Park, and now Tata-Airbus have gone to Gujarat,” he said.

Thackeray faction spokesperson, Priyanka Chaturvedi, echoed the sentiment, posting a similar charge on Twitter.

Thackeray, meanwhile, said he was not sad because the project was going to some other state. “The question is why is it not coming to our state? Why this new government is not able to bring projects to the state? In the last few days, CMs from other states are coming to Maharashtra and interacting with the local industrialists here to seek investments, but our CM goes to Delhi, and he does so for himself,” he said.

The Worli MLA said that big and small projects used to come to Maharashtra because of merit. “But today, despite having the merit, these projects are going to the other state,” he said.

He visited farmers in Malthan village area in Shirur tehsil and inspected the crops that suffered due to the heavy rains. There, he asked the state government to immediately announce a wet drought in the state and provide help to farmers.

“We have given a slogan – ‘Give or leave’, which means the state government should either provide help to farmers or step down,” he said.

Countering his allegations, BJP legislator Praveen Darekar said, “The deal (for Tata-Airbus project) was inked a year back, and one should find out who was in power at that time. The previous government did not do anything on it, including no correspondence with the Union government to facilitate this project in the state. The opposition should not make such baseless allegations.”

Maharashtra BJP chief spokesperson Keshav Upadhye said, “PM Modi made an announcement of ‘Aatmanirbhar Bharat’, which was followed by the Airbus Defence and Space S.A. Spain entering into an agreement to supply 56 C-295 MW transport aircraft and it was approved by cabinet committee on security.”

On September 24 last year, the defence ministry also signed a contract with the Airbus Defence and Space S.A. for acquisition of aircraft with associated equipment, he claimed.

“Despite so much development, the then MVA government did not send a single letter to the Centre. That government did not even follow up the issue with the Union government. The MVA leaders should avoid diverting the attention despite being aware of the facts,” Upadhye said.

“I challenge them to release a letter they had addressed to Tata-Airbus in the past,” he said.

A similar back-and-forth had ensued last month after the news broke of the Vedanta-Foxconn venture going to Gujarat instead of Maharashtra. Thackeray had said that the project would have generated 70,000-1 lakh employment opportunities in the state and was joined by other Opposition parties in the state, such as the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), in criticising the Shinde-led government.

“What was the government doing? What was the industries minister doing? On July 26, the CMO tweeted that the plant will come up in Maharashtra,” Thackeray had said, again pointing the finger at industries minister Samant.

Opposition leaders were also quick to allege foul play in the project going to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s home state of Gujarat.

“With the Gujarat elections coming up, the BJP in Maharashtra seems busy in safeguarding the interests of Gujarat,” NCP leader Jayant Patil had said in a series of tweets.

Samant, however, at the time pointed the finger back to the MVA government, alleging that the offer it made to Vedanta may not have been suitable for the conglomerate to go ahead with the project in Maharashtra.

Further, following the outcry from Opposition parties, Samant had revealed a purported phone call between Shinde and the prime minister claiming that the latter had promised a “similar or better” deal to come Maharashtra’s way.

Thereafter, Vedanta chairman Anil Agarwal also took to Twitter, writing that the company was “fully committed to investing in Maharashtra as well.”

(With PTI inputs)


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