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'An MP is not the mayor of the city'

Last updated on: April 28, 2009 13:20 IST
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Congress candidate Milind Deora is seeking a second Lok Sabha term from the Mumbai South constituency that goes to polls on April 30. Delimitation has meant that the constituency, which was earlier home to mainly India's super-rich, now includes the mill areas of central Mumbai, which has been a Shiv Sena stronghold. Deora speaks to Sidhartha about his prospects in what is being seen as a closely contested election. Excerpts:

You are telling voters that you have helped get a large proportion of the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM) funds for Mumbai. But will that be sufficient to get you votes when even south Mumbai residents talk of chaos and poor infrastructure in the areas where they live in?

There are different issues -- some are at the local level and some at the national level. People want a stable government, a good prime minister, a government that can deal with some of our hostile neighbours, a good foreign policy and a person like Manmohan Singh who is capable of dealing with the economic downturn.

At the local level, the JNURM has led to a good strategy that will see 455 million litres of water come to the city and it will help my constituency too.

We have got the Rs 1,200-crore storm water drainage plant. I have fought for major transport projects in the city and have expedited the Bandra-Worli sea link that will be opened shortly. I have pushed for the trans-harbour link. Though unfortunately, it got embroiled into a legal dispute between two companies, it will be my top priority.

There are data that indicate that Mumbai south, where the city's well-to-do live, does not compare too favourably with other parts of the city in terms of crime and other social sector indicators…

A Member of Parliament is not the mayor of the city since he has no executive powers. An MP's job is to make the constituency's voice heard in Mumbai and I have done well on that front.

Since people tend to forget what their MP has done in the past and vote on more immediate issues, how are you convincing the voters?

People should know that many media houses have voted me as the best performing MP. My performance in Parliament was very good. On an average, an MP asks 160 questions in Parliament, I asked 470 questions in my first term.

I was given the opportunity to initiate the debate on the Right to Information Act. I was part of the defence committee whose recommendations would lead to a high level of indigenisation. I am assuring people that I will work to get the right projects and ensure that there is timely implementation.

I will raise issues that important for the country and for the city. I will ensure good governance. It is very important that people vote for my party since it is important to get a man like Manmohan Singh to ensure that India will continue to grow at 6 per cent even if the whole world slips into recession.

But your opponents also accuse your party of being lax in dealing with terror and security-related issues.

I do not think I have any serious opponents. There is a banker (Meera Sanyal) who is on a sabbatical which clearly indicates that she is going to lose. Otherwise why would she go back to her old job? I have another opponent from the Shiv Sena, a party that stands for most regressive policies.

The performance of my opponent from the Shiv Sena during the last 20 years in Parliament is no match to my performance during my five-year term.

But independents such as Meera Sanyal and Mona Shah may eat into your votes.

None of the independents are serious candidates: they are there for publicity, they lack commitment. People should not waste their votes.

The general perception is that delimitation will affect your prospects and Shiv Sena's Mohan Rawle will benefit…

Let's see. Time will tell that. He is a strong candidate and my main opponent. It is essentially a battle between him and me. But even in his core areas, people are not happy. Mill workers feel misled by the Shiv Sena with Kohinoor buying mill land for Rs 400 crore. They want change. Because of all this, the Shiv Sena split and Narayan Rane and Raj Thackeray left. This election is going to show that the split is even wider.

Do your opponents from the Bahujan Samaj Party and Samajwadi Party pose a threat since they could eat into the Congress party's Muslim vote bank?

I would put all them in one bracket of spoilers. They lack credibility.

So, is it even tougher than 2004 when you won by 10,000 votes?

In the 2004 elections, I was written off but I won. I am not overconfident and I am treading cautiously.

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