By Quaid Najmi
Mumbai, Sep 13 (SocialNews.XYZ) Barely six weeks after Maharashtra claimed to have beaten at least 5 states to win the Vedanta Group-Foxconn's stupendous Rs 2.06 lakh crore investment proposal, the project has gone to Gujarat.
The development on Tuesday left Chief Minister Eknath Shinde's team rendered speechless, even as Deputy Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis left for Russia, and the opposition Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) went livid at the state's loss.
The Vedanta Group-Foxconn partnership in the sunrise semiconductors chips and display fabrications sector in Pune would have created over 200,000 direct and indirect jobs for the state.
The MoU for the deal, the single biggest investment of its kind in Maharashtra -- coveted by Gujarat, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Telangana and Himachal Pradesh -- was signed in the presence of Shinde and Fadnavis in mid-July.
MVA leaders like Nationalist Congress Party state President Jayant Patil, Shiv Sena's ex-Minister Aditya Thackeray and Congress' chief spokesperson Atul Londhe slammed the Shinde-Fadnavis duo for the loss of the prestigious project.
Patil said that once again, Gujarat has taken away a major project from Maharashtra right from the mouths of Shinde-Fadnavis government who are busy holding political rallies.
"With Gujarat elections coming up, the Maharashtra BJP seems to be safeguarding the interests of the neighbouring state.. Will the CM and DCM apologise to the educated, unemployed youth of this state for losing this huge and rightful employment slots," Patil asked acidly.
Thackeray and Londhe said that this is part of the series of steps taken by the BJP to take away all industries or employment generation project from Maharashtra to Gujarat.
Londhe said that first the BJP took away the International Finance Centre, then the diamond hub, while several other Central government organisations also shifted, at the cost of Maharashtra, where they were nurtured for long.
"Now, only Mumbai is left... This will also happen soon, and that's why the Shinde-Fadnavis government has come to power here. He Ram," lamented Londhe.
With Shinde keeping mum and Fadnavis departing to Moscow, it was left to the Industry Minister Uday Samant to respond and he merely said that "we shall find out how this has happened".
Thackeray said he was stunned that barely two months ago (July), Vedanta Group's Anil Agarwal had committed to set up the project in Maharashtra, they had even selected the site at Talegaon in Pune.
"After all, this, it is shocking to learn that the project has gone to Gujarat now. Why did this company move out of Maharashtra when 95 per cent of the work was done by the MVA government? This fact was also acknowledged by Anil Agarwal yesterday," he said.
Patil added that its puzzling how the project - for which Shinde-Fadnavis held meeting with the Vedanta Group-Foxconn top brass recently - has gone to Gujarat at the last minute, depriving the people of Maharashtra a big employment opportunity.
Slamming the Shinde-Fadnavis duo for its failure, Thackeray asked that "considering the overall scenario, whether there is a government in Maharashtra or nor?"
"This is a government of 'khokhas' (literally boxes, implying crores of rupees) which is a 'dhokha' (danger) for the state. There is a question of law-and-order also, how many investors will come to Maharashtra under such circumstances," Thackeray asked sharply.
Picking up a dialogue from the Bollywood superhit "Baazigar" (1993) - "Haar ke Jeetne walon ko Baazigar kehte hain" - Thackeray took a jibe at the Shinde-Fadnavis regime saying: "Now, it is 'Jeet ke haarne walon ko Khokhe Sarkar kehte hain'."
Mumbai-based mining giant Vedanta Group had partnered with the Hon Hai Precision Industry (Foxconn) to invest $15 billion in phases over the next 5-10 years for manufacturing semiconductor chips and displays in India.
Accordingly, Vedanta-Foxconn planned to invest Rs 166,800 crore and Rs 40,000 crore from other sources for its 1,000-acre proposed manufacturing facility at Talegaon near Pune.
This came after a series of meetings held by the erstwhile MVA government to bag the prestigious deal, including the last one in June with former Industry Minister Subhash Desai, preceded by a Vedanta team survey of Pune in February 2022 for establishing its facility there.
As per an official statement in July, the government had said that the mega-project would create around 200,000 direct and indirect jobs, total revenues of GST worth Rs 125,230 crore comprising Rs 37,500 crore State GST and the rest Rs 88,079 as Inter-State GST.
On its part, Maharashtra would provide a slew of incentives including 25 per cent capital subsidy, subsidised water and power supply, and land at concessional rates, and Shinde-Fadnavis assured all other help for the project to come up without hiccups in three years.
The Indian semiconductor industry is estimated to grow more than four times to over $60 billion in the next four years, and Fadnavis had said the state was keen that this industry - available in only four nations - should come here.
Incidentally, when he was the Chief Minister, Fadnavis had visited the Foxconn plant in China in 2015 where the initial discussions were held to bring the electronics giant to India, but its progress got bogged down due to strained relations between India and China and later the Covid-19 pandemic.
(Quaid Najmi can be contacted at: firstname.lastname@example.org)