He thinks ‘garden’ is not a basic amenity, but speaks of larger goals of restoring people’s trust in politics first. Congress Candidate Sanjay Nirupam, says the biggest challenge any politician faces is ensuring that the political image says he or she is accessible to people’s cause, at any given hour. Nirupam, who was elected in 2009, stands again from the Mumbai North Lok Sabha constituency dominated by Gujaratis, North Indians, between Malad and Dahisar.
How are you reaching out to your constituency?
To begin with, I have a helpline. It is exclusively to hear issues from senior citizen, students and women. We are taking the complaints in five languages, so that we reach out to maximum persons.
What is your vision?
I want to restore the trust of people in politics and politicians. I believe the first step is to ensure, maximum availability to public in the constituency. In the past five years, I have met people without appointments and at any given time.
Accessibility is the key. I have never said no to any request for help. Unlike BJP candidate who does not even entertain requests for admission, I give sanction letters to anybody. I have even given the authority to my assistant to give letters on my behalf. I have made 1,274 toilets and 280 borewells in buildings. According to me, a garden is not a basic amenity. In the Rs 5 crore fund instead, I have spent more than Rs 4 crore on water, drains and toilets.
Your opponents say that you have been charged with promoting illegal slums. Your comments?
I cannot be blamed for slums. I have nothing to do with slum lords either. The BMC is the nodal agency which has to react when they see slums mushrooming. No survey of land is done by them, and they start the process only after the poor begin to live in them. Why doesn’t the BMC pull down the structures while they are being constructed?
What is your agenda this term and what issues have you identified?
The common issues remain — transportation, education, infrastructure and healthcare. At this stage, there is no state funded hospital in this constituency. I have asked the central government for funds for a state-run hospital with 300 beds at Charkop. The state government has given the necessary sanction for a medical college, however we need at least 20 acres to build it. Currently, the proposal stands converted to 10 acre and we have eight acre land available. Healthcare remains a priority, everyday 10 persons are given free treatment from my office through my network with hospitals. On transportation, one may recall that Ram Naik had in 1999 inaugurated the beautification work at Borivali railway station, till I started the work in 2009, not a single brick had been touched. We also have a railway sabha to understand the needs of the commuter. We have repeatedly requested the state government to implement the modern station scheme for railway stations of Malad, Kandivili and Dahisar and make funds available. There is a demand for a special train for Konkan but the work is stuck due to track repairs at Diva. Finally, there is a new track being laid from Naigaon to Diva of 7 km.
What about other infrastructure?
I had sent a proposal to start the Metro line from Dahisar to Mankhurd instead of Charkop. The government has given sanction. We also worked a lot in cancelling the Metro yard at Charkop due to which many people stood to lose their houses. MMRDA has now made a detailed project report starting the metro from Dahisar and is looking at the yard issue. We had also sent a project for approval about a flyover at the Meat chowkie signal in Malad west Link Road. The moment metro line is finalised, the government will approve this project.