Politics is all about possibilities: Piyush Goyal

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New Delhi: Hours after National Democratic Alliance (NDA) partner, the Telugu Desam Party (TDP), announced its decision to quit the ruling coalition, Union minister for railways and coal Piyush Goyal did not rule out the possibility of a patch-up.

“Politics is all about possibilities,” Goyal said in response to a question about the chances of the TDP rejoining the NDA at News18’s Rising India Summit.

TDP president and Andhra Pradesh chief minister N. Chandrababu Naidu has been at loggerheads with the centre and the Bharatiya Janata Party over non-fulfilment of promises as per the Andhra Pradesh Reorganization Act and not granting Andhra Pradesh special category status. Also, funding to Andhra Pradesh in Union Budget 2018 has become a bone of contention.

Speaking at the same event, Union minister for road transport and highways and shipping Nitin Gadkari said that the Union government is committed to providing a financial package.

“Under the Constitution special status can’t be given to whoever demands it. If we give special status to one state, tomorrow other states will also demand it. Giving special status is not practically possible,” said Gadkari.

Goyal said Naidu’s decision was influenced by emotion.

“The Andhra issue has got attached to sentiment and not reality,” Goyal said, adding, “Under AP Reorganization Act, whatever Centre had committed we are doing. But the state has to also show work on the ground. For two years they have not submitted details of utilisation certificate for any projects… You can’t keep asking for money and not show what you have done on the ground.”

Gadkari added that his ministry was undertaking highway projects worth Rs1.5 trillion in Andhra Pradesh and was also targeting to finish the Polavaram dam project by 2019, which will help to irrigate the state.

Goyal added that his focus areas also include increasing the speed of freight and passenger trains from 23.5km per hour (kmph) and 46 kmph to 47 kmph and 71-72 kmph, respectively.

“Our focus is on transformational efficiency,” Goyal said while adding that Indian Railways is a public utility that is service oriented and not profit oriented.

The ministers said that both rail and road ministries were working in tandem to ensure that logistics costs are brought down to 8%.

India has been grappling with high logistics costs of 14% (as a percentage of cost of the product), which make its exports uncompetitive vis-à-vis those of China, where logistics costs add up to 8-10%.

Gadkari said India will be able to meet the target of 28km of highway construction per day by March-end. He added that the target will be raised to 41km per day next year.

He added that Prime Minister Narendra Modi will inaugurate India’s first 14-lane expressway from Delhi to Dasna and the Eastern Peripheral Expressway next month.livemint