Q: Pune is a part of Smart City project. Yet, Puneites are facing basic civic issues such as drinking water, traffic, transportation, waterlogging, etc. How do you intend to solve these problems in Kothrud area?
Traffic issues will have to be solved. The metro railway is a solution and our priority. We will have to complete the project at the earliest. We are monitoring its progress on a daily basis. We will have to increase the number of e-buses for the last-mile connectivity to the metro stations.
Despite being a metro city, Puneities do not follow traffic discipline. Our target is to shift 50 pc vehicular traffic to the metro railway.
Water is another issue. Immediately after the polls, I will look into this issue. I have already started working on this. We will increase the water quota of Pune and reserve water in other dams also. The Bhama-Askhed water project is also helping us to resolve the problem. We will try to complete it soon on a priority basis. Underground electricity cables, ring roads, Chandni Chowk flyovers will be expedited.
These problems were created in the 15 years of the Congress-NCP rule. In the past two-and-a-half years, Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) has acted on encroachments on nullahs, widened them, removed plastic and other garbage from them. The Congress-NCP government did not widern roads, delayed sanctioning and implementing of the Development Plan (DP) of the city. PMC will have to follow rules strictly while giving building permission. We are committed to do that. I used my last 40 years experience of social, political life to solve the city’s issues. I will take tough decisions.
Why is the BJP importing leaders from other parties? How will accommodate these leaders without hurting the loyalists?
Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis has given a clear message to the leaders joining BJP. He said in his speech in Kankavali rally that they will have to follow party discipline. We have given tickets to the leaders, who joined BJP recently. There are fielded from 10 seats. As compared to 150 seats, their number is not high. We provided reservations to the Maratha community and Rs 1,000-crore package to the Dhanagar community.
Why did you choose Pune to contest the polls? Kasba is the oldest BJP bastion. However, you preferred Kothrud, why?
According to a pre-poll survey, there are four safe constituencies in Kolhapur district. However, all seats were given to Shiv Sena. Had we demanded a seat, where Shiv Sena has its MLA, it would have rocked the alliance boat. Chief Minister Fadnavis had decided not to touch any sitting members from both sides during seat sharing. I had to choose between Mulund in Mumbai and Kothrud in Pune.
Why did not you choose Kasba as it is also considered a BJP bastion?
I don’t know but central leaders have something on their mind. They told us ‘Kuch soch ke hum apako Pune Le ke ja rahe hai’ (We have future plans. So we send you to Pune).? I am also not aware about their future plans.
NCP leader Ajit Pawar and MNS chief Raj Thackeray criticised you a lot. What is your reaction to that?
I am a cultured man. I take things positively. I think Ajit Pawar likes me a lot. So, he criticises me. Raj has a good personality. He is talented. But I don’t know why he is working under the leadership of Pawar. I am not saying he should work under the BJP leadership. But he can work independently. He should work differently.
During the Lok Sabha elections, you concentrated on Baramati. By deciding to contest from Kothrud, have you diverted attention or are less bothered about Baramati?
I will have to give more time to my constituency. People may think that if a candidate is not available during the elections, how would they look after the constituency after winning the elections. It does not mean that I have diverted my attention from Baramati.
Are you still facing resistance from your party leaders and alliance partner Shiv Sena in Kothrud?
No, I am tension free now because I succeeded in sorting out problems related to Kothrud. Now, I am relaxed.
What is your take on Shiv Sena’s objection against the proposed metro rail depot in Arrey Colony?
BJP and Shiv Sena are like husband and wife. Their fight is a family matter. We have been fighting for the past five years and it will continue in the future also.
What is BJP’s predication about the state polls?
According to our survey, we will win 220 seats. We were strong during the Lok Sabha polls in these segments. If we consider the Ram Mandir issue, the tally should touch 250.
When people are facing issues in their daily struggle. Why is BJP raising national issues and diverting attention?
Abrogation of Article 370 was our agenda and a happy moment. For us, the nation comes first. In Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis’ speech, he spoke only for three minutes on Article 370. Remaining speech revolved around drought. Even our senior leader Amit Shah mentioned local issues in Kolhapur.