Subhash Pasi, the lone Samajwadi Party candidate in the fray for the Lok Sabha elections from Mumbai, will launch his campaign from the North West constituency on Sunday, replicating the party’s key promise — free laptops if voted to power.
Backed by Mayawati’s BSP, Pasi, a legislator from Saidpur in Uttar Pradesh’s Ghazipur district, will take on Shiv Sena MP Gajanan Kirtikar and Congress’s Sanjay Nirupam. The constituency will go to poll on April 29, the last of the four-phase elections in the state.
“Until a few days ago, no one was talking about any other candidate here. But now it has become a triangular contest,” Pasi told The Sunday Express on Saturday.
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Pasi, who has listed his occupation as agriculture in his election affidavit, said he is keen that students in Mumbai are also given free laptops, like those in Uttar Pradesh when Akhilesh Yadav was the chief minister in 2013.
The SP, Pasi claimed, had decided to contest on the Mumbai North West constituency after its seat-sharing talks with the Congress broke down. “We have decided to contest on only one seat in Mumbai, but we are also laying the ground work for contesting the Assembly elections in Maharashtra later this year. The SP has a presence on the ground in Mumbai. We are now constituting booth-wise committees and aiming to consolidate in Mumbai,” he said.
While the SP has seen little success in the previous Lok Sabha polls it had contested from Mumbai — party’s state party chief Abu Azmi contested unsuccessfully on the North West seat in 2009 — Pasi claimed that this time the party will benefit from the its pre-poll alliance with the BSP.
“Mayawati has a set of committed voters who will vote for me. I am also a prominent Dalit face in the city and confident of representing Muslims and the north Indian community here better than Nirupam,” he said. Nirupam originally hails from Bihar. Of the total 17 lakh population in the Mumbai North West constituency, more than 3.62 lakh residents are north Indians.
Claiming that the north Indian community in Mumbai had not forgotten Nirupam’s role in condoning the attacks on the community when he was a member of the Shiv Sena, Pasi said: “How can he now ask for votes from them?”
Elaborating on his campaign plan, Pasi said that over the next two weeks he would reach out to autorickshaw drivers, vegetable vendors, milkmen and dairy farmers.
“I will work for the poorest residents of Mumbai, ensuring that there are parking hubs built for autorickshaws and that drivers are not harassed. I will also try to ensure that the limit for selling SRA flats is reduced to five years from the existing 10 years,” he said.
The 57-year-old, who stays in Jogeshwari, is also counting on his position as an MLA. “Every seventh household in UP has a family member in Mumbai. As an MLA, I am able to solve a lot of problems even though I do not spend a lot of time in my constituency. I will be able to serve the north Indian community much better than the other candidates,” he said.
“We have served the people during the 2005 floods and the 26/11 attacks. During Ganesh Chaturthi, I give cash prizes to mandals. I have also been organising Chhath Puja for more than 20 years in Mumbai. In the last 40 years that I have lived in Mumbai, people know me very well,” he said.
Together with wife Reena, Pasi runs an NGO, Akshara Foundation, which, he claims, has helped to send bodies of 973 members of the north Indian community, who had died in Mumbai, back to their families in UP.
The MLA along with his wife has listed moveable and immovable assets of Rs 64 crore. In 2017, Pasi and his secretary was booked by the Mumbai Police for allegedly duping an Assistant Police Inspector of Rs 25 lakh after promising him to secure a house for him under an SRA project in Juhu.
Brushing aside the concerns surrounding his criminal history, Pasi said: “For the voters, it is a lot more important if you are by their side when they need you.”
With his campaign set to strategically begin on Ambedkar Jayanti, Pasi said that the dates for the rallies to be addressed by Mayawati and SP President Akhilesh Yadav in Mumbai will be finalised in the next couple of days.