MAVAL LOK Sabha constituency has seen a sudden rise in its profile with the NCP fielding Parth Pawar, grandnephew of party chief Sharad Pawar, from the seat. In an interview with The Indian Express, Maval’s sitting MP, Shiv Sena’s Shrirang Barne, however, says he is confident that the electorate here would vote on the basis of merit and not family connections. Excerpts:
You will be contesting for the second time. How confident are you of winning from the seat?
I will win the election this time as well. Despite fielding someone from the Pawar family, the NCP is on a weak ground in the constituency. The party is now in alliance with the Peasants and Workers Party of India (PWP), but the Shiv Sena and the BJP have very strong support in each of the six assembly constituencies in Maval.
Our strength has grown in the past few years, while NCP’s influence has been on the wane. The work that Prime Minister Narendra Modi has done across the country and the BJP-Sena government in Maharashtra in last five years will help me succeed in the elections.
Voters are convinced about our ability to deliver. I have reached out to every nook and corner of the constituency and there is positive atmosphere in favour of the BJP-Sena. Click here for more election news
How serious is the threat from Parth Pawar?
The NCP has been losing its influence in Maval (Lok Sabha seat) for the last few years. In past 10 years, they could not find a suitable candidate to field from the seat. Nor did they allow the local leadership to develop. Therefore, the NCP has had to rely on the family of the party’s leader (Sharad Pawar). Everyone knows why this is being done… Maval has 70 per cent urban and educated class. I am confident they will vote for the country and not for a family.
As of now, there are no problems between the Shiv Sena and the BJP. Both the parties are in alliance and have decided to jointly fight the election. We have also launched a joint campaign. Whatever the problems were, they have been sorted out.
In fact, there will be a joint meeting of BJP and Sena leaders tomorrow (March 19), which will be presided over by District Guardian Minister Girish Bapat. The meeting will iron out whatever small differences that remain.
Will you invite your arch rival, MLA Laxman Jagtap, to campaign for you and share the stage with him?
Since I am the candidate, I will invite everyone. I will personally call them. In fact, I have already spoken to them. The Sena and BJP will campaign together. Each seat is important for the country and therefore we will all make efforts to win from Maval.
The BJP leaders had earlier accused you of criticising the Prime Minister in your speeches. What will be your issues to seek vote this time?
Firstly, I have never criticised the Prime Minister. People who make such allegations should show me the paper cuttings of the speeches where I have attacked the PM.
Secondly, this time, my campaigning will revolve on the work that I have done in my constituency. I will not criticise anybody, but will highlight the central schemes implemented and funds that I got for my constituency.