Uddhav’s COVID-19 relief package for poor an eyewash: Fadnavis

MVA repackaging Centre’s schemes and passing them as its own, says former CM

Despite preambles not to indulge in politics over the pandemic, Maharashtra’s politicos seem to be doing exactly that at every turn.

On Wednesday, former chief minister Devendra Fadnavis, the Leader of Opposition in the Assembly, alleged that the Uddhav Thackeray-led Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government was ‘repackaging’ the Centre’s ongoing schemes for the COVID-19-afflicted and passing them as its own measures.

Speaking in Nagpur, Mr. Fadnavis said the relief measures announced by Mr. Thackeray to help the underprivileged tide over the 15-day lockdown was mere “eyewash”. He said, “The fresh curbs announced by the State government are going to hit several people extremely hard. But the government has not made any provision for the poorest sections. At least 88 lakh people in the State are not covered in the Food Security Act because of a faulty survey conducted in 2011. But the Chief Minister has not announced any assistance for these people.”

Mr. Thackeray had announced a package of ₹5,476 crore for street vendors, registered construction workers and licensed autorickshaw drivers as part of his relief measures in the ‘Break the Chain’ campaign.

Mr. Fadnavis said the package was inherently discriminatory in nature as the CM had announced financial assistance to registered hawkers only. “This will only benefit hawkers in Mumbai and Thane, as only these cities have registered street vendors. What about those outside these cities?” asked Mr. Fadnavis, claiming that the State government was divorced from ground reality.

The BJP leader’s censure drew an angry response from State Congress chief Nana Patole, who urged Mr. Fadnavis to secure funds that belonged to Maharashtra and allegedly lying with the Centre if he indeed had any influence with the BJP-ruled government there.

“Maharashtra has legitimate funds to the tune of ₹90,000 crore which are still stuck in limbo with the Central government. If Mr. Fadnavis has any influence with the Centre, then let him secure these funds for Maharashtra,” he said. Mr. Patole admitted that the relief package had indeed left out some sections, but welcomed the measure as a whole.

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