Interview | sanjay nirupam Lok Sabha Election 2019

‘It is inactive vs. hyperactive candidate in Mumbai North West’

People know I am a fighter, whereas Sena candidate is barely seen, says former city Congress chief

Sanjay Nirupam may have lost his position as Mumbai Congress chief, but not the fight. The Mumbai North West candidate faces incumbent Member of Parliament Gajanan Kirtikar of the Shiv Sena, who he believes has barely been “there.” On the other hand, Mr. Nirupam told The Hindu, his visibility will see him through.

What do you believe are the main issues in your constituency?

For this constituency or for Mumbai, the basic issues are the lack of civic amenities: bad roads, cleanliness and water, followed by unemployment and corruption. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) would like to make nationalism an issue, but these are the real issues. The BJP-Shiv Sena has been in power in the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation for the past 30 years and it is their duty to provide basic amenities. If after 30 years in power, people have the same issues, then the BJP-Sena has no moral right to contest these elections.

What is your key election strategy?

I am accessible, actionable and accountable. In the past four years, the city has seen that Sanjay Nirupam has stood for various issues and has been with the people. I am a fighter; everyone knows that. You have an MP who is good for nothing. He has had no role in either Parliament or in his constituency. On the other hand, you have someone like me, who is seen among the people and in television debates. It is a contest between an inactive candidate and a hyperactive one. Now the voters need to decide which one they want.

The Sena is planning to project you as someone who is not loyal as you moved to this constituency after losing in Mumbai North in 2014

When I went to Mumbai North in 2009, I was an outsider. I am an insider in North West. I have been living and working in the constituency for over 20 years. Just check any newspaper over the past five years and see who has done more work. I was the face of the Mumbai Congress. Was any MP visible? Has Mr. Kirtikar stood with the people in the past five years?

What are the strengths and weakness of the Sena-BJP? Do they have an edge in terms of organisational strength?

‘Sena-BJP versus Congress’ has been going on in the city for years, and we know each other’s organisational strength. One should not be under the illusion that you can win all six seats simply on the back of organisational strength.

The issue is the people’s expectations of the party. In 2014, there was a huge expectation created by the BJP and Narendra Modi was the main attraction for voters across the country and the city. We were also facing huge anti-incumbency. Even a lamp post would have won if it stood on a BJP ticket, which is what happened. Useless and senseless people won. This time it will be different.

The Congress recently unveiled its manifesto. Of all the announcements made at the national level, what would resonate with Mumbai voters?

The scheme to provide ₹72,000 per household will resonate with many living in the city. Moreover, this is a liberal manifesto. We have ideas to abolish sedition and decriminalise defamation, which will appeal to voters in Mumbai. Our promise to provide homes of 500 sq ft will also resonate with the city’s voters. And we have demanded a directly-elected mayor for Mumbai, like in New York and London.

In addition, we will be bringing out a separate manifesto for Mumbai North West, which will highlight our stand on issues of this constituency and our solutions. We will also be releasing a youth manifesto this Sunday at a convention, which will have Hardik Patel and Urmila Matondkar in attendance.

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Printable version | May 29, 2020 9:02:01 AM |

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