Congress candidate from Shirdi, Suresh Thorat, brushes aside talk in political circles that he is a ‘dummy’ candidate and his rival, five-time MLA Radhakrishna Vikhe Patil, will win the Assembly elections again.
Thorat, a cousin of state Congress chief Balasaheb Thorat, has had a feud with Vikhe Patil. In conversation with The Indian Express , Thorat says if elected, he will replicate the success story of the Sangamner dairy business across the state and also tackle the problem of unemployment.
Radhakrishna Vikhe Patil has won the Shirdi assembly seat five times. What do you think about your chances this year?
Matacha varshav honar aahe ( I will get a huge majority). People are angry in Shirdi. They had voted for Radhakrishna Vikhe Patil earlier as he was with the Congress. He is now contesting elections as a BJP candidate and people are calling him a traitor. History has shown that however strong or towering a leader may be, people can be unforgiving if their demands are not met.
What are the major issues that need to addressed at Shirdi?
Water scarcity, lack of civic infrastructure, youth unemployment and farmers’ unrest are major problems here. The promise of constructing a canal network to ferry the waters of Nilwande dam to benefit more than 180 arid villages in Sangamner, Rahata, Kopargaon and Rahuri talukas in Ahmednagar and a few in Nashik has not been fulfilled. The international airport has been built, but not enough facilities have been provided.
What is your campaign strategy?
I hail from Jorve village in Sangamner tehsil and have contested various elections. I am a Zilla Parishad member and I was in charge of implementing the Sanjay Gandhi Niradhar Yojana, where we approved more than 16,500 cases. I have already completed one round of campaigning by conducting door-to-door visits. We have requested senior leaders from the party, including Rahul Gandhi, to campaign in Shirdi. People are angry about the lack of development here and complain that Vikhe-Patil has only promoted himself.
If elected, what are your plans for Shirdi?
To handle the issue of unemployment and replicate the Sangamner model of cooperative sugar factories and dairy business in the state. The Rajhans milk plant at Sangamner is a success story as milk producers are firm believers in cooperative principles. The dairy business has been a success story and I hope to replicate that at Shirdi.
Today, at Shirdi, there is not enough money at farmers’ homes to celebrate Diwali. The milk collection has also gone down. People have been misled in the name of development.