BJP’s Madhu Chavan stands to contest sitting MLA and his namesake, Congress MLA, Madhu Chavan from the Byculla Assembly constituency. An interesting pocket, with 35 per cent Muslim vote bank, 40 per cent Marathis, and a small proportion of Gujarati and Marwadi population, and one among the only two city pockets to withstand the Modi wave during Lok Sabha elections, the two namesakes tell TABASSUM BARNAGARWALA the issues they promise to tackle, if they win the upcoming election.
How has the split in Congress-NCP and BJP-Sena alliance affected your constituency?
Madhu Chavan (Congress): The split with NCP will not affect Byculla because they have fielded no candidate here. The contest will be between MNS, BJP, ABS and Congress. I have occupied the MLA seat twice already. I think, all the 10 other candidates will lose their deposits.
Madhu Chavan (BJP): Sena is not contesting in Byculla. And people are unhappy with the Congress rule. So the clear choice is BJP as I don’t think MNS will be able to sweep votes.
In Lok-Sabha elections, Byculla was one of the few pockets where Congress garnered highest votes. But do you feel there is Modi-effect even now?
Madhu Chavan (Congress): When a PM can come to address rallies while the borders are being attacked, only to woo voters for elections, how can we trust that PM? The Modi-wave is declining now. In Byculla, we have done work for all religions and communities. People will not vote for Modi, they will vote for the candidate.
Madhu Chavan (BJP): After elections, Muslims’ stand towards BJP has softened. You can ask any Muslim living in Gujarat, he will tell you that he is getting all facilities in the state. If BJP is brought to power, we will provide similar facilities. I credit Modiji for his plans at the Centre. We will spread the first 100 days of Modi government to catch voter’s attention, which I am sure will help.
Tell me the issues in this Assembly pocket?
Madhu Chavan (Congress): Byculla has a lot of old dilapidated buildings. In my five years of tenure, I have utilised my MLA, special and the Prime Minister fund to repair close to 1,500 buildings. There is no area where I have not reached out. I have even repaired 8-9 schools.
Madhu Chavan (BJP): The chawls and old buildings need attention. Congress has neither done much for redeveloping these buildings nor contributed towards affordable housing. Also there are very few open spaces and parking slots. We are going to take up all these issues during our campaigning.
People have complained about how they have to live in transit camps for several years away from the city.
Madhu Chavan (Congress): I know when a building goes into redevelopment, people are sent off to far-away transit camps. But we have also accommodated several residents in camps located in Colaba, Bandra and Sewri. Earlier the funds for this were less, now the funds have also increased to Rs 200 crore. I have proposed to allot Bombay Port Trust (BPT) land for such transit camps. I have also asked to allow Slum Rehabilitation Authority to work on BPT land. At least then residents will get a closer transit camp from their building.
Madhu Chavan (BJP): It’s true, here when a building goes into redevelopment people are sent off to transit camps for several years and the redevelopment proceeds at slow pace. If elected, I will make sure that the buildings are redeveloped within three years.
How will entry of All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (MIM) affect your party in Byculla?
Madhu Chavan (Congress): Muslim community looks out for secular representatives. Although MIM party has been erected to cut Congress votes, it will not be able to defeat us. Congress has reached out to Marathis, Muslims, Gujaratis and all other smaller communities. Muslims still have confidence in me as I have worked for five years.
Madhu Chavan (BJP): There are 35 per cent Muslims in this pocket. I don’t think MIM will affect our vote share in Byculla. It will instead divide Congress votes and affect some of Geeta Gawli’s votes (Akhil Bharatiya Sena).