Saturday, Nov 26, 2022

Vedanta-Foxconn Setting Up Chip Plant In Gujarat Is 'Attack On Maharashtra's Prestige': Shiv Sena

The Opposition in Maharashtra, including the Uddhav Thackeray's Shiv Sena camp, has come up in arms since the announcement of microchip plant in Gujarat.

Shiv Sena president Uddhav Thackeray
Shiv Sena president Uddhav Thackeray PTI

The Shiv Sena on Thursday said that the Vedanta-Foxconn semiconductor plant being set up in Gujarat instead of Maharasthra is an attack on the state's prestige.

Sena in an editorial in its mouthpiece Saamana alleged that this is the second time a key project has gone out of Maharasthra in recent years, with the first being an international finance centre which eventually took shape as Gujarat International Finance Tech — GIFT City. It was shifted to Gujarat from Mumbai.

These sharp comments from Sena come days after Taiwanese electronics giant Foxconn and Indian conglomerate Vedanta announced they would set up a semiconductor plant in Gujarat's Ahmedabad. It would be India's first semiconductor plant and would also be one of the largest ever investment at Rs 1.54 lakh crore. 

The editorial alleged that the setting up of semiconductor plant in Gujarat was just the beginning and one day Eknath Shinde-led Maharashtra government might even "trade Mumbai".

Without naming the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the Sena mouthpiece alleged that like this project, some people also harbour the desire to "conquer" Mumbai-Thane and undermine Maharashtra's prosperity, and that this was the reason a "puppet chief minister" was installed in Maharashtra.

It further claimed that while BJP's Devendra Fadnavis was chief minister from 2014-19, the GIFT City project was handed over to Gujarat, and current CM Eknath Shinde similarly allowed the semiconductor plant to slip away.

"Tomorrow they will not hesitate to even trade Mumbai. Foxconn is a start. This is a serious attack on Maharashtra's prestige," said the editorial. 

On Wednesday, Shiv Sena leader Aaditya Thackeray had said that Maharashtra had also lost a proposed bulk drug park project in Raigad district as the Centre approved similar parks in Himachal Pradesh, Gujarat, and Andhra Pradesh instead.

Vedanta and Foxconn are setting up a 60-40 joint venture (JV) on a 1000-acre land in the Ahmedabad district. The JV would set up a semiconductor fab unit, a display fab unit, and a semiconductor assembling and testing unit. Operations are expected to start in two years.

Semiconductor chips, or microchips, are essential pieces of many digital consumer products - from cars to mobile phones and ATM cards. A massive shortage in the semiconductor supply chain last year affected many industries worldwide, including electronics and automotive. To cut dependance on Taiwan and China,  the Union government brought a fiscal incentive scheme for manufacturing semiconductors in the country. Vedanta-Foxconn is one of the successful applicants for the Production Linked Incentive (PLI) scheme for semiconductors.

Besides Vedanta, a consortium comprising Dubai-based NextOrbit and Israeli tech firm Tower Semiconductor has signed a deal with the Karnataka government for a plant in Mysuru while Singapore-based IGSS Venture has chosen Tamil Nadu as the location for its unit.

However, the setting of Vedanta-Foxconn plant in Gujarat —home state of Prime Minister Narendra Modi— has sparked a political storm in Maharashtra. The plant was earlier reportedly planned in Pune. 

The Congress on Wednesday accused the Shinde government of betraying the people of Maharashtra, and warned that if the Vedanta-Foxconn project is not brought back to the state from Gujarat, the party would stage a massive protest. 

Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) MP Supriya Sule on Wednesday alleged that Gujarat bagging a mega Vedanta-Foxconn semi-conductor plant was part of a "conspiracy" to reduce Maharashtra's importance, adding that the Union government was consistently taking steps to "demean" Maharashtra.

She said, "It is part of a larger conspiracy to bring down the importance of Maharashtra, the only state in the country poised to become a trillion dollar economy. I am making these allegations consciously...the Union government is consistently taking steps to demean Maharashtra. There will be a long-term setback for Maharashtra as we continue to lose more and more mega investment projects."

Meanwhile, CM Shinde alleged that the previous Uddhav Thackeray-led Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government had not cooperated with Foxconn and Vedanta. He further said that while the chip plant has gone to Gujarat, another iPhone and TV manufacturing facility would be set up in Maharashtra.

He said, "My government came to power only one and a half months ago. I didn't want to get into a blame game over the development. But I think the Opposition should introspect. The Vedanta group has said that it will set up an iPhone and TV manufacturing facility in Maharashtra. Even PM Modi has assured a bigger project in the state as it has good potential."

(With PTI inputs)