He was one who made people aware about legislative council elections as he, almost a decade ago, put up banners and hoardings announcing his candidature for the Mumbai Graduates constituency. NARENDRA VERMA did not cut ice then, but surely he did make people sit up and take notice of the legislative council elections. Today, he leads the Mumbai unit of the NCP in the BMC elections against the formidable opposition of Shiv Sena-BJP-RPI-A alliance. Here’s Verma in a tête-à-tête with PRASHANT HAMINE
- The Shiv Sena-BJP has ruled the BMC for the last 15 years. Now, the RPI-A has joined the Mahayuti. How do you see NCP’s chances of winning the elections?
They have failed the people of Mumbai for the last 15 years in providing basic civic and infrastructure facilities. Despite the BMC having a budget of more than Rs.22,000 crore they have not done anything for Mumbai. After having spent crores of rupees on the roads, there are still potholes. No new hospital has been built in the last two years. People are fed up with corruption in the civic body, they want change. The Sena’s electoral graph has seen a steady decline over the last 15 years. They first had 102 corporators. In 2002, their tally slumped to 96 and in the last elections it went down further to 72.
- But what have you done as the party in power in Maharashtra?
State government had to implement MUTP, Mono Rail, Metro Rail, build flyovers and Bandra-Worli sea link. Central government funded the Rs.1,200 crore stormwater drain project that now ensures that there is no nightmarish flooding like 26/7. Major infrastructure works are being implemented through JNNURM.
- Is the MNS a threat to the NCP given its anti-North Indian community stance?
We have no threat from the MNS in the election fray. They will damage the Sena’s chances. Actually, they are two sides of the same coin. What has MNS to offer by way of constructive work? People will judge them by their performance. The North Indian community too has contributed in the struggle for the formation of the state of Maharashtra. There were 23 Non-Maharashtrians, which includes five North Indians, amongst the 105 martyrs who laid down their lives for the formation of the state in 1960.
- There are several citizens groups like Mumbai Nagrik, which are also contesting the elections this time around. How do you look at their presence in the poll fray?
It is a positive sign for the biggest democracy of the world. The fact that NGOs and civil society are taking part in elections itself is a sign of a healthy democracy. We do not treat that as a challenge. On the contrary, more and more of such pressure groups need to join active politics. Despite all the talk of corruption and inflation, people still voted for the NCP in the recent municipal council elections held in December 2011.