As a sitting MP are you happy with the feedback from voters?
Voters have seen the work done for most of the city's mega-projects right from 1984 when I first became MP. Unlike others, who ask for a post box or a railway ticket booking window, I've kept an eye out for big-ticket projects linked to commuting. Whether the metro or monorail, there were fewer stations in my constituency. That didn't stop me from pushing for projects. Voters in Versova now thank me as this constituency will benefit from all the Metro pojects.
Is that why you chose the North-West in 2009?
That's incorrect. I wasn't contesting as our party president (Sonia Gandhi) wanted me to only campaign. On the last day of filing nominations, I was asked to contest. Samjwadi Party's Abu Azmi had started a high-decibel vitriolic campaign with Jaya Bachchan in tow but the hard work of local Congress workers over 12 days helped me win comfortably.
But some projects like the elevated rail project just make headlines and aren't heard of
That's not true. The project is very much on track. The railways are pushing for getting an FSI of 5. I spoke to CM Prithviraj Chavan. After all, this is the union railway ministry and not some private contractor. The CM's said he will look into it. Things will pick up after elections.
Many say issues like corruption and women's safety will be a factor when votes are cast this time
Not only corruption charges, but even others are trumped up by the opposition frustrated about being out of power. Have you seen the opposition raising questions about women's safety? How can you point fingers at the centre when everyone knows policing is a state subject. Also how does it behove a party whose prime-ministerial candidate negates his own wife and abandons her to talk of women's safety? You know this is the first time Modi's admitted on affidavit he's married, which means he's been lying all these years.
What do you think of the Modi wave that everyone is talking about?
Where is the wave? Both the BJP's bluster and below-the-belt attacks will backfire very badly. In Mumbai, the Congress will win all its six seats again.
Does it rankle when Shiv Sena says you are a Kannadiga and not a Maharashtrian?
This is ridiculous. I was born in Karwar because my mother hailed from there and went home for delivery. That makes me Kannadiga, but the Sena's own candidate Kirtikar's mother too is from Karwar. What does that make him? If it comes to Maharashtrian credentials, I'm on more firm ground than the Thackerays who're migrants. My family's always fought for inclusion of Belgaum and Karwar into Maharashtra. My dad's uncle T A Kamat was one of the first to represent Maharashtra's claim on these districts.
Last time Sena's Kirtikar was your main rival?
Kirtikar lost his way soon after losing the last elections. Forget voters, even people in his own housing society haven't seen him. He'd come here to meet me to get some work done. How can a man with little to show as achievement after being an MLA for 20 years be a serious rival? I'll admit MNS' Mahesh Manjrekar is someone we'll have to watch. It of course helps me that that the SP which got over a lakh votes and the Bharatiya Republican Party which got 80,000 are not in the reckoning.