LokSabha 2019: Pune will reject a non-performer as their MP, says Mohan Joshi
The Congress and the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP)-led grand alliance candidate from the Pune Lok Sabha seat, Mohan Joshi, speaks to Siddharth Gadkari on various topics concerning his campaign during the polls. Here are some excerpts.
Q: How would you analyse the Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) work in the past five years?
A: Pune’s development was the duty of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). Pune has given full support to the BJP. There is a Union Cabinet Minister Prakash Javadekar, BJP MP Anil Shirole, District Guardian Minister and State cabinet minister Girish Bapat, Minister of State for Social Justice Dilip Kamble and 100 members in the Pune Municipal Corporation. However, Bapat hasn’t done anything for the city. They are claiming to have done development work, which is nothing but carrying forward of the previous Congress government’s development programme. On the contrary, the Central Government’s development schemes announced for Pune were diverted to Nagpur and Aurangabad. Bapat played a role of speed breaker for Pune’s development. They were not able to cope with the speed and expansion of the city.
Q: What are the weaknesses of your opponents and what are your strengths?
A: Pune is the cultural capital of Maharashtra. Puneties are sensible, they don’t support corrupt people. The Aurangabad bench of the Bombay High Court passed strictures against the public distribution system (ration shops). The tur dal scam is also another example, in which BJP candidate Girish Bapat was involved. Though Bapat denied it saying it was an allegation against the State Government and not against him, he cannot shirk the responsibility being the minister of that department. Bapat should explain the reason why he had raided the Khopoli-based pulse warehouse during Diwali without intimating the government machinery and used a private vehicle for that. Puneites will not vote a corrupt person. I have an advantage as I am an ordinary, hard-working party worker, who has been serving people and the party for the past 40 years. This is my strength. Bapat has strong opposition within his own party.
Q: Is it a challenge for party loyalists after Congress President Rahul Gandhi, considering party leaders’ opinion, declared your name at the last moment?
A: I benefited due to the late declaration of the candidature for the Pune Lok Sabha seat in the State. The media was discussing a lot about Pune seat. People were very curious to know who would be fielded by the Congress from Pune. They were closely watching TV, reading newspapers. Congress President Rahul Gandhi has trust in me. It is my responsibility to win now. Our party has mostly loyalists. Therefore, it cannot be called a challenge.
Q: Are there any differences between the Congress and NCP workers in the city?
A: We are working together. When my candidature was declared, the next day all NCP leaders and workers were present at the Congress Bhavan. We are working closely. All Congress and NCP leaders are working hard while the Bharatiya Janata Party and Shiv Sena workers have differences. There is a lack of coordination between the Bharatiya Janata Party and the Shiv Sena.
Q: What is unique about your party’s Pune manifesto?
A: We have made practical assurances to people, which we can fulfil in the future. We don’t show off. We chose the Mahatma Phule Wada (Samata Bhumi) as the venue to release out manifesto as the BJP has divided communities, castes and religions. There is a need to unite our society. Our party believes in equality, brotherhood. So, we decided to release the manifesto in Samata Bhumi. People from various walks of life released our manifesto. We have promised Puneties to give speedy development, security, health and happy life.
Q: From which city areas are you expecting a good response? How is the overall voters’ response during your campaign?
A: We have completed the first stage of the campaigning. In Wadgaon Sheri, Pune Cantonment, Shivajinagar, Kasba and Parvati, we are getting good support, excluding Kothrud. However, we are working there too. In this election, there is a contest between ‘dhanshakti’ (wealth) and ‘janshakti’ (people’s power). I will share an experience about how people are responding during the campaign. When I reached Karve Road, a PMPML conductor stopped a bus and shook hands with me.