Gopal Shetty, BJP candidate for Mumbai North Lok Sabha constituency, is all set to make his maiden entry into the parliamentary election. North Mumbai, traditionally a BJP stronghold, was breached by the Congress twice in the last two elections. In 2004, Bollywood actor Govinda was elected as the Member of Parliament from this constituency and in 2009 Sanjay Nirupam won the election against Ram Naik. Shetty, the sitting MLA from Borivli, has already started his rigorous campaigns, strategically planned by his advisors and BJP leaders, in the constituency. While Shetty is confident of his victory, there are several issues which make the leader edgy too. In an interview with dna's Geeta Desai, Shetty highlights his areas of concern, issues to be raised and vision plan for his tenure if he wins.
How do you see yourself fighting against a candidate (Sanjay Nirupam) who was the sitting MP of the constituency and he is already making his presence felt.
I am not at all worried about the Congress candidate. What Nirupam had done in the last five years is the work of a corporator like taking up road repair works and digging bore-wells. He has not taken up any developmental issues for the area at the central level. He could have done so much when his own government was at power in the state and the Centre. In that case, our leader Ram Naik, who was an MP from this area earlier, had picked up all issues which could not be solved at the local or state level.
What is your plan for next five years if you win this election?
I want women to be financially independent. There are several women who want to earn a livelihood but have no way. I have started a Mahila Aadhar Bhavan in my constituency. This place will give them one stop solution for their self-reliance. I want them to earn and help their family so that their children get a better life. This will help everyone a chance to grow. Apart from this, traffic is a major issue in North Mumbai. There are several bottle-necks on SV Road which need to be decongested. This is BMC’s job but civic administration has failed to bring out the solution. I will ensure that shopkeepers get good deal and even the road is widened. Rising number of railway accidents is a major problem. Each year 11,574 people lose their life in railway accident. I will work to bring this number down.
There are many controversies revolving around you about misuse of open plots in Borivli. Kamala Vihar Sports Club and Poisar Sports Club. Please comment.
Yes, there are people who don’t like me doing good work. Each time I took up development of garden in Borivli (West), I was opposed. But I was determined that I wanted residents of Borivli get gardens. Had it been the gardens and recreation clubs were not developed, the plots would have been encroached. These gardens are used by middle and lower middle class with their families on holidays for recreation. Entry charges are Rs2 which is kept for the upkeep of the garden. Even clubs are used by middle class families who don’t have choice of clubs in the area. There are private clubs but they are expensive. There are people with vested interests who don’t want me to develop recreation grounds. Every project I have taken up is within rules and regulations of the BMC.
Which are the areas worrying you the most?
Mostly, North Mumbai is traditionally a BJP area. Discounting last two elections, each time we have won. This time barring few pockets of Malad-Malvani, where voters are conservative Congress voters. I may face tough fight in few areas of Kandivli (East). However, I am expecting that the voter turnout will be around 60 per cent.
How do you think fight between the MNS and Shiv Sena will help you?
I will not comment on the fight between the two as it is a separate issue. But yes, as the MNS has decided not to field any candidate here (North Mumbai), I will definitely benefit from this. Also Sena – BJP combine has four MLAs and 21 out of the total 38 corporators in my constituency. They all are putting their might for me. Above all our prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi’s charisma will help me. I am sure to win.