Seventy-two-year-old Arun Lad, a sugar baron, was last week elected from the Pune graduates constituency. He was picked by the NCP and had the backing of the Maha Vikas Aghadi government. The Pune graduates constituency comprises of Pune, Sangli, Satara, Solapur and Kolhapur districts. Lad defeated BJP-backed candidate Sangram Deshmukh by a big margin of votes. In an interview with Manoj More, Lad says he will fight for the rights of the graduate youths and force the government to fill up their vacancies.
Since you had lost in the last elections, how confident were you this time?
It is true that I had lost last time. But in that elections I had contested as an independent and had secured around 30,000 votes. Due to my good show, NCP picked me this time. Right from the word go, I was confident that I will win. Firstly, the NCP, Congress and Shiv Sena were together. They put in their might for my victory. Whether it was at district level, taluka level or grassroot level, workers and leaders slogged for me. Second and most important reason for my victory is the widespread resentment against Chandrakant Patil who was elected from the graduates constituency last time. In all the five years his party, BJP, was in power. Yet, he did nothing for the youth. On top of this, in an interview, he said their candidate will complete his unfinished work. This was a joke played on the voters. It further angered them and they came out in big numbers to vote for me. I won in the counting of the first preferential votes itself. It showed the voters outright preference for me and anger against Patil.
How easy or difficult it was to campaign in five districts?
Campaigning in five districts is not an easy task. Besides, this time, there were restrictions due to Covid-19 norms being in place. To my luck, since three parties had joined hands, I had an effective machinery which worked for me. Whether it was NCP, Congress or Shiv Sena, their machineries worked overtime to ensure my victory. Voter registration was also a task in itself. We had started registration in January. However, it was tedious and later was stopped due to Covid. But due to effective three-party machinery we managed maximum registrations. As a result, the voting percentage was close to 65 per cent. In contrast, every election, the voting per centage used to be only around 35 per cent.
How did you get NCP nomination?
Firstly, my performance in the last elections was creditable. Secondly, I have been working for different sections of the society all my life. We run educational institutes and also a sugar factory. Our sugar factory has always strived to ensure justice to farmers and farm labourers. There are over 5,000 direct and indirect persons who are associated with our factory and who benefit from it. We have around 1,500 direct employees and rest are indirectly associated with us. Through educational institutes too, we extend our best possible help to the poor.
Now that you have been elected, what is on top of your agenda?
Unlike Chandrakant Patil who made promises and never fulfilled them, I will try to fulfil all the promises that I made. On top of my agenda is getting the graduates’ vacancy with government and semi-government bodies filled up. I will force the government to fill up the vacancies for graduate youths on top priority. I will raise the issue in the Legislative Council. Besides, I will always be accessible to the youths from all the five districts to listen to their grievances and help find a solution. My connect with the masses has always been good and will always remain so.
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