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‘We stood for Dalits,they’ll support me’

You are taking on Eknath Gaikwad in a seat that has seen the addition of Dalit pockets from Chembur and Anushakti Nagar. Eknath Gaikwad has not worked for Dalits; he just used them to garner votes.

Four-term MLA from Mahim Suresh Gambhir faces an uphill task in Mumbai
South-Central,where delimitation has given Cong an edge over Shiv Sena. Excerpts from an interview withDhaval Kulkarni

You are taking on Eknath Gaikwad in a seat that has seen the addition of Dalit pockets from Chembur and Anushakti Nagar.
Eknath Gaikwad has not worked for Dalits; he just used them to garner votes. There is a huge number of Dalit voters in Dharavi,and when the government decided to redevelop the area in sectors,we demanded that the residents should get 400-sq ft houses while the government was insisting on 225-sq ft units. The government later announced it will grant 300-sq ft houses. So,the Dalits,who form 55 per cent of Dharavi residents,will support me. I had also demanded in the Assembly that the Dharavi redevelopment project be named after Bharat Ratna Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar though they (the Congress) are pressing for (the late Prime Minister) Rajiv Gandhi’s name.

The water crisis is severe in areas of the eastern suburbs. There is a sentiment that the problem is yet to be resolved despite the Shiv Sena- BJP being in power in the BMC for successive terms.
It’s true. Some areas are facing a water crisis. I will follow up the matter with corporators in the area and the BMC administration.

The MNS has put up a candidate against you (Shweta Parulkar). Do you see a threat?
The MNS has some pockets of support in areas like Dadar but,after the BMC elections,when it came to electing a Mayor for the city,the MNS corporators did not vote for Sena nominee (and incumbent) Dr Shubha Raul,and instead remained neutral in a move that could have helped the Congress-NCP. But,fortunately,it did not happen. Though there will be some division of votes,there will not be any major diversion of votes .

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What will be your priorities as an MP?
We have promised 400-sq ft houses for slumdwellers in Dharavi,and (Sena executive president) Uddhav Thackeray has also said we will give justice to Dharavi residents. There are a number of chemical companies in areas like Chembur and Anushakti Nagar that pose a threat to residents,and I promise to resolve the hazard. More FSI will also be given to residents of gaothans like Chembur and Anushakti Nagar.

First published on: 11-04-2009 at 02:32:12 am
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