SHUBHANGI KHAPRE:Is it going to be a tightrope walk for you as the big two,Nitin Gadkari and Gopinath Munde,exercise their influence in the party?
DF:My nomination to the post of state president was unanimous. This is a new beginning and I dont perceive any problems for myself. Leaders have differences on issues. But that is democracy. In the Congress,I know there are some leaders who dont sit together. Our leaders sit together and talk. Our partys motto is that difference of opinion is acceptable but not differences of intention. We are now in election mode and the party understands we should aim at gaining power at the Centre and the state. Both leaders are working closely towards this goal.
P VAIDYANATHAN IYER:What are the key issues being focused on before elections?
In the past 15 years,quality of administration and governance has been absolutely bad. There is just no governance in Maharashtra. Whether it is infrastructure,agriculture or power,we are lagging behind and the state is struggling to meet basic demands of people. At Palghar,on the outskirts of Mumbai,there is load-shedding for 12-16 hours. Nearly 50 per cent of households in the state do not get tap water and in districts such as Gondia and Gadchiroli,82 per cent dont get tap water. Around 33 per cent people in the state do not have access to proper toilets and nearly 700 villages in Vidarbha are still not connected by road.
SHUBHANGI KHAPRE:Why were you voted out if the government had done great work in 1999? Why arent voters able to perceive BJP-Sena as a credible alternative to Congress-NCP?
We were good at governance but bad at politics. Our democracy is about politics and governance and as we were never in power in the state earlier,we failed to tackle that front. In 1999,we hoped we would return to power because our performance was excellent. But we fell short of 8-10 seats. The Congress relies on the 30 percent votes from the Muslim and Dalit communities. But now this is changing.
P VAIDYANATHAN IYER:As setting up an educational institute is significantly expensive and profit-making is not considered wrong,do you think the Fee Regulatory Act will be accepted?
The Supreme Court gave its verdict in the TMA Pai Foundation case 10 years ago,in which it said a profit-making institution cannot set up an educational institution. It has to be a registered charitable institution. Therefore,profiteering is against the law. During a raid in a Pune college,which has many institutes in Mumbai as well,Rs 106 crore was found. This is money taken as donation for admissions. Maharashtra ranks 17th in the country in terms of primary education,which is behind some much smaller states. So,quality education for all and skill development are the way forward. For nearly seven crore young people to become a demographic advantage,at least 50 lakh people must be trained every year,while we have infrastructure for training only one lakh.
SHUBHANGI KHAPRE:What solution does your party have for solving the irrigation crises in the state?
The key is to focus not just …continued »