Pawar slams Modi govt over ‘unprepared’ note ban, GST roll-out

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Mumbai, Oct 3 (PTI): Voicing concern over “economic slowdown” and unemployment under the Modi regime, NCP chief Sharad Pawar today said the current situation of the country was a result of taking steps like demonetisation and GST roll-out without adequate preparedness.

“The investment climate in the country is not good today and hence, there are no fresh investments. The Make in India slogan seemed very attractive initially, but its hollowness has begun to show now,” he said at a press conference here. “The decisions of demonetisation and GST taken by the prime minister without adequate preparedness has dealt a heavy blow on the country’s economy,” he said.

The veteran leader also slammed the Centre over incidents of terrorism in Kashmir, and said there were loopholes in the policies adopted by the government in the Valley. “The government should have demonstrated its willingness to establish a dialogue and resolve issues,” he said.

Also taking a dim view of the Ahmedabad-Mumbai bullet train project, Pawar said technology and modernisation should be feasible. “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 behind this bullet train. Maharashtra has barely got 4 stations (to be touched by the bullet train), while the maximum stops are in Gujarat. But, Maharashtra has to contribute equal finance in the project,” he said.

The Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader, however, hastened to add that he was not against benefits to Gujarat, but only wanted to point out that the project would not benefit Maharashtra. “Instead, the government should have taken steps to improve railway services in Mumbai and Maharashtra,” he said.

Taking a jibe at Railway Minister Piyush Goyal, Pawar said, “I thought he would have more knowledge about Mumbai’s local trains’ issues as he belongs to the city. Lal Bahadur Shastri had resigned after a train accident. I expected the same action from the railway minister (Goyal) but it did not happen”.

A video clip was also played at the press meet, in which Prime Minister Narendra Modi was seen saying that a bullet train is to showcase the country’s strength. Commenting on the issues faced by Maharashtra, Pawar said his party would take a call on launching an agitation over the 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 final call at the meeting,” he said. The former chief minister of Maharashtra 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. The NCP chief claimed that the total outgo due to the loan waiver announced by the government would not exceed Rs 12,000 crore because “most farmers will not be eligible for the scheme due to the government’s impractical norms”.

Asked about former chief minister Narayan Rane’s decision to launch a party, Pawar said, “He (Rane) could not even induct his own son in his party. What can I say more about this”? Pawar declined to comment on RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat’s critical remarks against the LDF government in Kerala, in which the NCP is a partner. “I do not take his comments seriously,” he added.

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