Abhijit Paanse, the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena’s (MNS) Lok Sabha candidate from Thane, is an ad filmmaker. A former head of the Shiv Sena’s student wing Bharatiya Vidyarthi Sena, the 41-year-old joined Raj Thackeray’s MNS last month. The first-time Lok Sabha contestant concedes that he has formidable opponents in Sanjeev Naik, the Nationalist Congress Party’s (NCP) sitting MP and Shiv Sena MLA Rajan Vichare but remains hopeful of attaining the goal he has set for himself.
What does winning the Lok Sabha election mean to you?
I believe certain changes in the constituency can be brought only by reaching the central legislative. New laws, amendments in laws and resolutions, make a difference in our lives and they cannot be achieved in state assembly. Our voice should reach the Parliament.
What are the challenges before you?
I know it is the first election for me, but I am in politics by choice. I am an ad-maker, I earn my bread and butter from it. So, I am not here to make money. I am going to work as an ad-maker despite winning the election. For me it is a tough fight as the sitting MP and NCP leader, Sanjeev Naik and his family have kept key positions to themselves. Sanjeev’s father is in the Cabinet and is Guardian Minister, his brother is an MLA and his cousin is the Mayor of Navi Mumbai.
Rajan Vichare, the MLA, is fooling innocent people about cluster developments. The hoardings put up by Vichare don’t speak of any development he has brought about in the city.
What work will you take up on priority if elected?
Our issues haven’t changed for the past 65 years. People still struggle to get jobs, health care and education. The previous policies should be changed. The old pattern of education needs to change and at the same time new education pattern ‘ kranti niketan’ should be introduced.
The next priority is of health as conditions in government hospitals are pathetic. Instead, people take ailing senior citizens to private hospitals. I think, the 50 per cent free seats for the poor can be allotted to the senior citizens in private hospitals.
None of the government hospitals have costly medicines (always prescribed by the doctors but not available in the hospital). I think, a government hospital is where all the medicines should be made available free of cost. I would like to popularise subsidised loan schemes that are already existing among educated and aspiring women. Women should have grooming centres to prepare them for jobs, UPSC exams and selection to police force, not limited to just bachat-gat, pickle and papad.
What are the major issues in Thane constituency ?
The issue of illegal structures in Thane need to be addressed well. Cluster development is necessary as the conditions of the buildings have gone from bad to the worse . In Mira -Bhayander, water woes should be resolved. The issue of dumping grounds in Mira-Bhaynder and Thane needs to be considered with global and scientific technology, ‘energy source’ can be generated from the same dumping grounds.
There are allegations that rather than winning seats, the MNS is more interested in ensuring the defeat of Shiv Sena. How do you react ?
No, I don’t think this allegation is completely correct. But yes, we need to defeat those who have done nothing for the common man.
Your party has put up candidates against the NDA and at the same time you claim that you will support Narendra Modi as the Prime Minister of the country. Do you think there is a dichotomy in this stance ?
MNS chief j Thackeray is crystal clear in his views. He thinks that Narendra Modi is the only fit candidate for Prime Minister of the country. Do we have more choice ? No, he is the man with advance vision. The party leader nationally supports NDA selection as he has witnessed the progress of Gujarat few years ago. The candidates that the party has fielded against the NDA alliance is a state issue. The party views can differ, as the issues on the state and national level can certainly differ.