(Eds: Adds minister Deshmukh's reaction) Mumbai, Oct 6 (PTI) Shiv Sena MP Vinayak Raut on Tuesday claimed Congress minister in Maharashtra Amit Deshmukh is trying to divert a central project meant for Konkan to his home district Latur, an assertion disputed by the latter.
Raut, whose party is a Congress ally, said the Ayush Ministry has finalised setting up the National Institute of Medicinal Plants at Sindhudurg in Konkan, but Deshmukh 'on his own' wrote to the Centre seeking to locate the project at Latur in the Marathwada region.
The Sena leader is the Lok Sabha MP from Ratnagiri- Sindhudurg, which is part of the coastal Konkan region.
Reacting to Raut's claim, Amit Deshmukh, the state's Medical Education Minister, said there was no discussion at the level of his department at any point of time about locating the institute in Sindhudurg.
He, however, stressed that there are no differences between the Shiv Sena and the Congress on the issue.
The Congress leader, son of former chief minister Vilasrao Deshmukh, is an MLA from Latur and is also the guardian minister of the central Maharashtra district.
The Shiv Sena, the NCP and the Congress came together last year to form the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government after the Uddhav Thackeray-led party severed ties with the long-time ally BJP.
Speaking to a TV channel, Raut said the Centre has finalised Adali village at Dodamarg in Sindhudurg as the location for setting up the institute and sought the state government's feedback on the same.
'While all preparations have been made at the local level, suddenly, a letter with the (state) ministers' signature on it was sent to the Centre for locating the project to Latur instead,' Raut alleged.
The Lok Sabha member said he had tried to meet Amit Deshmukh several times to discuss the issue and also sent a letter to him in this regard.
The Congress minister, however, did not respond, Raut claimed.
'Our (Ratnagiri) guardian minister Uday Samant also took efforts. But, he (Amit Deshmukh) did not meet us even once. It does not suit him to run away with the project,' the Sena MP said.
The parliamentarian further said he had witnessed how 'big-hearted' Vilasrao Deshmukh was even to his opponents.
'He (Vilasrao Deshmukh) would pat on the back of even his opponents. It is impossible to fill in his shoes. He (Amit Deshmukh) needs to follow in his fathers footsteps,' the Sena MP remarked.
Speaking to the channel later, Amit Deshmukh said there are no differences between the Shiv Sena and the Congress on the issue.
There is nothing like that an effort is being made to divert a Konkan project to Marathwada. All want a national institute to come up in Maharashtra, he said.
The minister said the Centre had earlier decided to set up the institute at Jalgaon in North Maharashtra.
But the Ayush Ministry later informed that the location (Jalgaon) was not suitable for setting up the institute, he added.
The minister said it is the central government which will take a decision where the institute will come up.
The project approved for Sindhudurg was of herbal garden. I have also learnt about earlier correspondence over setting up the National Institute of Ayurveda in Sindhudurg.
But there was no discussion at the level of the medical education department on setting up the National Institute of Medicinal Plants in Sindhudurg at any point of time.
Hence, I think facts need to be checked by getting into the details of the situation. After that comments can be made, Amit Deshmukh said.
The Congress minister said his department will try to understand Rauts views and hoped a way will be found.
It is an administrative issue. One need not make a comment getting emotional, he said, when asked about Rauts remarks vis--vis his father. PTI ENM GK RSY RSY