ACROSS THE six Lok Sabha constituencies in Mumbai, the richest candidate in the fray is Vanchit Bahujan Aghadi’s (VBA) Sanjay Sushil Bhosale, with assets worth over Rs 125 crore declared in his affidavit submitted to the Election Commission.
The 51-year-old Chembur resident is a candidate in the Mumbai South Central constituency, where the main fight will be between Shiv Sena MP Rahul Shewale and Congress’ former MP Eknath Gaikwad.
Bhosale describes himself as a “land banker”, who undertakes land acquisitions in the city, Navi Mumbai and Nashik and then sells these plots to trusts and companies. Bhosale says that he joined politics after being troubled by the struggles that city residents face for basic rights, including food, employment, clean water, proper drainage and housing.
“The people of Mumbai have become tolerant towards bad governance. The Congress and BJP, which have ruled over the city, have made the city unsafe and unhealthy to live in. They have done so deliberately to drive the poor away. It has to change, people have to get their basic rights,” Bhosale told The Indian Express.
Though a qualified Ayurveda doctor, Bhosale says he never practiced medicine. He says his work in real estate and social work activities makes him a known face to most residents of his constituency.
“I have been a fan of Balasaheb (Prakash) Ambedkar for a long time and was recently discussing with him about contesting the elections to provide an alternative to the two parties (Congress and BJP). They are similar to each other in dividing people on the basis of caste and religion, so that people fight among themselves and there is no focus on development,” Bhosale said.
About the issues faced by voters in his constituency that includes areas as diverse as Mahul and Dharavi on one end and Dadar and Sion on the other, Bhosale says he has been engaging with residents, listening as they speak about their problems.
“The residents of Mahul, for instance, face ill health due to environmental damage in the area. They need to be represented before the Union Ministry of Environment & Forests… In Dharavi, there is a need for infrastructure for the already skilled labourers,” he says. His other plans include seeking an ICU in one compartment of local trains, and free education for all.
The son of a supervisor with the Brihanmumbai Electric Supply and Transport (BEST) undertaking, Bhosale says he is against privatisation of transport in the city. “The budget of the BEST should be included in the BMC budget, and the State Transport Corporation’s budget should be part of the state government’s budget. If elected, I would also want to ensure that BEST employees get pension,” Bhosale adds.
On the perception that VBA candidates will help the BJP by dividing the secular vote, Bhosale says the focus should be on governance, a change from Congress and BJP.
One of the VBA candidates to have a criminal record, Bhosale says that while a B-summary closure report was filed in one of the cases against him, the two others relate to complaints filed against banks pertaining to others involved in his land deals, where he has been wrongly named.
Bhosale belongs to the Maratha community and says the rift created between Dalits and Marathas is for the benefit of the political classes. About sitting MP Rahul Shewale, he says, “He boasts of having asked over 1,000 questions in Parliament. I want to ask him how many of those have been for the benefit of the people in his constituency?”