CM steers new industrial policy through cabinet

Stems opposition from within Congress; NCP ministers give in after Pawar support.

Some deft manoeuvring by Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan quelled resistance to the new industrial policy from within the Congress, while taking the support of Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar, allowed the CM to stem opposition from NCP ministers, thus paving the way for the clearance of the new industrial policy in the cabinet meeting on Wednesday.

Chavan said, "The new policy will take the state to greater heights. At a time when Gujarat and other states are showering incentives to attract investments, we cannot afford an anti-industrial image."

For 72 hours leading to the cabinet meet, Chavan had been trying to drum up support for the policy, and his efforts had begun with a one-on-one meeting with Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar.

Almost half-a-dozen NCP minister, including senior NCP ministers Chhagan Bhujbal, Jayant Patil, R R Patil and Sunil Tatkare, were prepared to take the steam out of the new industrial policy but went on the backfoot on sensing Pawar had given his consent.

To silence critics from within the Congress, Chavan had enlisted the support of AICC secretary in-charge of Maharashtra Mohan Prakash and Maharashtra Pradesh Congress Committee (MPCC) president Manikaro Thakre.

On Wednesday, when Industries Minister Narayan Rane sought cabinet approval for the new policy, a couple of NCP ministers urged him consider their points. PWD Minister Chhagan Bhujbal said, "There should be some room for corrections. I want the government to consider returning 15% of land to farmers and amending the clause that allows notional VAT concession for export units. The amount works out to Rs 9,000 crore."

Chavan and Rane agreed to consider it points and take appropriate decisions.

Home Minister R R Patil wanted to know why the government was not according the same incentives for setting up industrial units in backward region.

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