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BJP-Shiv Sena will win 35 seats: Gopinath Munde Interview

Wednesday, 23 April 2014 - 8:20am IST | Place: Mumbai | Agency: dna

Touted to be the next chief minister of Maharashtra, senior BJP leader Gopinath Munde claims that the BJP-Shiv Sena alliance will win 35 of the 48 Lok Sabha seats in the state. In an interview with dna's Sanjeev Devasia, Munde says Sharad Pawar is not welcome in the NDA. Excerpts:
  • Sudhir Shetty dna

Is this your toughest fight in your constituency?
Every election is tough, but I am confident that I will get elected. The NCP is trying to defeat me in every possible way. They brought in caste issue in the campaign. Besides, the NCP had spent crores of rupees, while Ajit Pawar and Sharad Pawar camped in Beed to campaign against me. But people in the constituency know me as I have been a public representative for so many years and I am above caste considerations and I will get the support of all castes.

Why did you seek the support of MNS, when so much bad blood has taken place over the overtures made by some of the BJP leaders to the MNS seeking support?
I sought the support of the MNS because they did not have a candidate in the constituency and the MNS workers wanted to support. However, they requested me to seek the approval of MNS chief Raj Thackeray, so I had to seek support from him. Besides, I had also kept the Shiv Sena in the loop and it is only after they agreed to it, I spoke to Raj Thackeray.

Why has Sharad Pawar made it a prestige issue to defeat you?
There is a fear his mind that after the NDA comes to power at the Centre, I will be able to defeat the Congress-NCP alliance and demolish their government. Besides, I have targeted them politically in Western Maharashtra. We will win majority of the seats there.

Do you think it was right for BJP leaders like Nitin Gadkari to seek the MNS support?
None of us have sabotaged our alliance with the Shiv Sena. In future too, the Sena will remain our friend. It is just that we tried to bring both the brothers together and the intention of approaching the MNS was for common good.

Why was Nitin Gadkari absent from in the BKC rally? Did you all buckle to pressure from the Shiv Sena?
He is our national leader and he has been touring all over the country. He has gone to Bihar for campaigning for the party and that is the reason for his absence at the rally. Besides, the Shiv Sena has no grievances with Nitin Gadkari and they do have a dialogue with him and with me.

Why is there no unanimity in your party on toll issue?
I had declared that there should be no toll. I will get rid of toll in the state and it is possible. They have spent Rs25,000 crore on the road and we are ending up paying Rs 1,08,000 crore in 16 years. The toll policy framed by Gadkari was the best one and toll was charged only on projects above Rs100 crore. The state government can take a loan from banks and pay them back with interest. The state has other options too like putting a surcharge or cess or increasing the road tax. More importantly even Gadkari said that you should be asking Munde on how toll can be abolished, he has not opposed it.

If there is a Modi wave, then why are you seeking the help of MNS?
There is a Modi wave, but there are local issues also.

Will you welcome Sharad Pawar and NCP into the NDA, if the NDA needs to seek NCP's support after the election?
I will not welcome him. In any case, the NCP will not be able to win more than four seats. Besides, we will surely win a clear majority and I am confident there will be no need to seek help.

Were you unhappy about the party leadership making it clear that Devendra Fadnavis was the pointsman as far as alliance was concerned?
I am happy about it as he is the state party president. He was already doing the job and there should be no confusion about it.

Why was Poonam given a tough seat?
Because she is a fighter and the high command thought that she is best placed to face the challenge. It was a challenge and the Mahajan family always accept challenges.

Do you wish to become the chief minister after the assembly elections?
There cannot be a discussion on it now. However, there will be no CM candidate for the BJP-Shiv Sena alliance and the CM will be chosen after the elections in the state.

From a leader of sugarcane cutters, you have become a sugar factory owner. How do people see you and how do you manage this contradiction?
Before I became a factory owner, I was the leader of cane cutters. But the people are happy that I become a factory owner. I don't see a contradiction. If there will be a conflict between the owners and the labourers, I will always be with the labourers.

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