Devendra Fadnavis created history when he was sworn as the Chief Minister of Maharashtra on 31 October 2014. This was the first time that the saffron party became the single largest party in the state and a BJP leader became the CM of Maharashtra. And though the BJP did not get an absolute majority in the Assembly elections, his government won a confidence motion by voice vote on 12 November. Later Shiv Sena joined the BJP-led government. The Maharashtra CM spoke to Zee Business Editor, Amish Devgan on the expectations that people have from him, the priorities of his government and other important issues. Excerpts from the interview:
Q: Like Modi's 'make in India', you have come up with 'make in Maharashtra' campaign. Tell us about it.
A: Maharashtra is the most progressive and industrialised state of this country and to make India successful, Maharashtra needs to be successful. So, to keep Modi ji's agenda going strong, we have come up with a similar campaign at the state level. And we have already designed policies for the same.
Q: People's expectations from you are similar to that with PM Modi. What do you have to say about that?
A: Modi ji is a role model for all the chief ministers. Modi ji says we all have to work as a team. He says that all CMs have to come together as 'Team India'. Maharashtra will also contribute to this initiative.
Q: Do you think corruption is a serious issue? What do have to say in the context of opening cases against NCP leaders?
A: Its all about transparency. Modi ji advised me to run the government for development. And transparency needs to be restored to earn people's faith.
Q: When, along with Amith Shah, you took the risk of contesting alone, did you think BJP would win?
A: Amit Shah was very supportive regarding the whole thing about fighting the elections together or separately. We would not have had such a big victory had he not been present in Maharashtra in such a big way.
Q: Did you ever feel you would become the BJP CM of Maharashtra?
A: I was always doing my duty as the representative of BJP. I never thought I'll become the CM.
Q: Corporates want to know about the status of infrastructure development in Maharashtra since it is the financial capital of the country. What are the steps being taken in that direction?
A: We're working on a 72-km Metro. Work is under progress. We're also constructing a Coastal Road to decongest the traffic. Trans harbour link's work is also on a fast pace. The Centre needs to give a couple of clearances. Our main focus is housing. Housing and transportation are required to make Mumbai a world class city.
Q: What's your promise to India Inc as the CM of Maharashtra?
A: To set up a plant or factory in a designated industrial area, you needed 76 permits earlier. But now, only 25 are required. We're bringing the process to a single IT platform to bring credibility. Earlier, permissions Took about 1-3 years, but now it's done in 3 months.
We're following the models of good governance in all states, Gujarat, MP etc., so that by the next year, others would follow Maharashtra's model of growth.
Q: What are your three priorities as the CM?
A: Firstly, I plan to create a better environment for industries. I aim to improve the ease of doing business ranking of the state. Secondly, there's a strong need to revolutionise and develop the agriculture sector. Within a year, we plan to make 5000 villages drought-free. And lastly, as Modi ji said, we need to provide housing for everyone and work towards swachh bharat.
Q: Opposition is calling you a 'soft CM'. Your comments on that?
A: Everyone can see my priorities which are not really "soft".
Q: Zee Business has completed 10 years. Would you like to say something to the viewers?
A: Zee Business has been providing insights regarding investment and capital markets to the common man. It's been very helpful to the common man. And I would request you to continue spreading more such information to the masses.