It’s official. The Naiks rule Navi Mumbai.
Not only is 60-year-old Nationalist Congress Party leader Ganesh Naik back for a fifth term as MLA, this time he has son Sandeep (31) in tow.
Naik, a minister with three portfolios in the outgoing government, beat his nearest rival — top builder but political novice Suresh Haware (53) of the BJP —by over 12,000 votes in Belapur.
Son Sandeep, a corporator since 2005, defeated Naik loyalist-turned-arch rival Vijay Chougule (47) in Airoli by 11,907 votes.
“I have always been the people’s candidate and they have once again proved it,” said Naik. “Our victory proves that people identify with the ideals of Sharad Pawar and Sonia Gandhi and, at the local level, they have lots of affection for us.”
Added Sandeep: “This victory is a vote for progress, secularism and peace.”
Thursday’s twin victories, combined with the fact that elder son Sanjeev (37) — a former Navi Mumbai mayor — won a Thane Parliamentary seat in the national election held earlier this year, will boost Naik’s status further within the NCP and cement the region’s status as a family bastion.
The father-son duo successfully battled anti-incumbency, the emergence of the MNS and rebels candidates from the NCP and alliance partner Congress — local Congress president Namdeo Bhagat (46) jumped into the fray as an Independent after he lost his ticket in seat-sharing negotiations.
The Naiks’ main poll plank was development, with father and son repeatedly citing the Morbe Dam as a major achievement and promising more along the same lines.
The purchase of Morbe has made the Navi Mumbai Municipal Corporation — where the NCP is in power too — the first in the country to own its own dam.
With the pipelines ready, Navi Mumbai is now all set to receive 24x7 water supply, beating even neighbouring megalopolis Mumbai in this respect.
Other much-touted achievements include the 14-km Thane-Belapur Road Project, the only highway in the state on which no toll is levied, and the introduction of Volvo and CNG buses for public transport.
The NMMC is also planning to earn carbon credit by reducing methane gas emissions and converting garbage into fuel and fertiliser.
As for the future, the Naiks have promised an independent power generation project to ensure 24-hour power supply to the city.
Other promises include more vertical growth, especially for dilapidated buildings and no increase in taxes.