Son-in-law of slain rationalist leader Govind Pansare, Bansi Satpute, 58, is one of the two CPI candidates contesting from Maharashtra. Member of the national council of the All India Kisan Sabha, Satpute claims tacit understanding between the Congress-NCP and the BJP-Shiv Sena in Shirdi, which votes on April 29.
What issues are you are focusing on?
For years, we have worked on farmers’ issues, rights of Adivasi women… We also want to take forward Comrade Govind Pansare’s views against casteism and communalism. The BJP is trying to mislead the people in the name of development.
How are your chances against your opponents?
This is Govind Pansare’s janmabhoomi. People know of his work. Not only do we want to revive the Communist movement, we also want to keep his memory alive. The CPI is the oldest Communist party in the country. There is anger against the Shiv Sena and the other candidates. There is also resistance to the RSS’s and the BJP’s Hindutva plank. The trend is against the establishment. We are optimistic.
Why did the CPI not ally with the Congress-NCP in Shirdi?
The Ahmednagar-Shirdi region is dominated by sugar cooperatives. There is a tacit understanding between the Congress-NCP and BJP-Shiv Sena here. Ahmendagar has been electing BJP candidates and Shirdi has seen Shiv Sena leaders. During the 2014 general elections, the Shiv Sena’s Sadashiv Lokhande won, but in the Assembly polls Congress MLAs (were elected) in Shirdi, Sangamner and Shrirampur Assembly segments, which fall under the same Shirdi constituency. Local leaders have their milk and sugar factories and need an MP who does not interfere in their work. In the last five years, despite a Shiv Sena MP here, they have not won any gram panchayat elections.
How will you tackle the water crisis, unemployment?
Water sources have dried up. Farmers are selling their cattle, farm produce has been damaged and there has been a spike in farmer suicides. Regional, district-level meetings need to be held to work out a solution for the crisis. A relief fund of Rs 1 lakh crore should be set up to help farmers during natural calamities. We are also proposing a Bhagat Singh National Employment Guarantee Act, to provide unemployment allowance to the youth.