History will remember the present Maha Vikas Aghadi government in Maharashtra as the one that destroyed the state. As if mishandling the Coronavirus Pandemic wasn’t enough, the Uddhav Thackeray-led government has got its priorities completely wrong when it comes to spending taxpayers’ money.
The Maharashtra government is cash-strapped. It doesn’t have enough funds to pay its employees. But guess what the Maharashtra government does have funds for? Six luxury Innova Crysta seven-seater cars.
Vijay Wadettiwar, a cabinet minister in charge of relief and rehabilitation said, “Situation of the state is such that we will have to take a loan to pay the next month salaries of government employees. Except for 3-4 departments, expenses have been cut in other departments.”
But Each of the six luxury cars to be bought will cost the exchequer ₹22.83 lakh. The purchase has been cleared for School Education Minister Varsha Gaikwad, her deputy (MoS) Bachchu Kadu, sports minister Sunil Kedar, his deputy Aditi Tatkare, the additional chief secretary of the school education and sports department, while the sixth car is for the office use of the department.
The permission to buy these high-end cars has come right from the top as any purchase over ₹20 lakh has to be cleared by Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray. The outlay in the present case is pegged at ₹1.37 crores.
The outrageous purchase has been approved by both the finance department and the Maharashtra CM.
Maharashtra has been ravaged by the COVID-19 outbreak with more than 2,00,000 cases, and is already facing a downward spiral in its revenues.
Over the past four months, the state has registered a revenue loss of more than ₹50,000 crore owing to the lockdown which was announced after the Wuhan virus outbreak. It has turned out to be a double whammy for Maharashtra, as even the lockdown was not properly enforced.
The caseload keeps rising in Maharashtra and the state is also facing an acute revenue loss. In such circumstances, the exceptional sanction for the purchase of high-end vehicles seems like a cruel joke.
Former Maharashtra CM Devendra Fadnavis has slammed the Shiv Sena-NCP-Congress coalition government. He said, “How can purchasing vehicles for ministers be the priority of the government in the present scenario?”
Only earlier this week, Wadettiwar was blaming the Centre for the cash crunch in Maharashtra. Admittedly, the state government is moving towards expenditure cuts apart from struggling to pay salaries. But somehow it feels that there is enough money to buy luxury cars.
Maharashtra is, unfortunately, going down the path that no state would want to go. An insensitive and indifferent political administration is worried about its own luxuries, while the commoners battle the Pandemic.
Viewed against videos of COVID-19 patients lying next to dead bodies, and policeman sleeping on pavements without any social distancing measures, the move to buy high-end cars for a Minister and bureaucrats seems particularly outlandish.
Even worse, Maharashtra voters cannot even blame themselves for electing an outrageously insensitive government. They had voted for a BJP-Shiv Sena coalition. Little did they know that the electoral mandate would be betrayed and a Maha Vikas Aghadi government would come at the helm of affairs, doing irreparable damage to the state.