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'Poll results will bring surprises'

Two years ago, he dealt a blow to the Shiv Sena-BJP alliance by winning seven Assembly seats in Mumbai and spoiling the prospects of several other candidates. Now, with the February 16 civic polls, Maharashtra Navnirman Sena chief Raj Thackeray is gunning for a bigger role.

mumbai Updated: Feb 09, 2012 02:17 IST
Shailesh Gaikwad

Two years ago, he dealt a blow to the Shiv Sena-BJP alliance by winning seven Assembly seats in Mumbai and spoiling the prospects of several other candidates. Now, with the February 16 civic polls, Maharashtra Navnirman Sena chief Raj Thackeray is gunning for a bigger role.





What do you think of the BMC's functioning in the past five years?


Those who've ruled the BMC for 17 years have had to put up hoardings saying 'karun dakhawla' [we did it]. Forget 17 years, what have they done in the past five years? The BMC has a budget of 21,000 crore, of which they say 60% is establishment cost. There's the remaining 40% - Rs 8,000 crore a year - to spend on the city. That's Rs 40,000 crore in five years. Are Mumbaiites convinced that Rs 40,000 crore has been spent on the city? On an average, Mumbaiites pay Rs 38 crore in taxes to the BMC every day. What do they get in return? Potholes, bad water, garbage on roads and encroachments.



The Sena-BJP alliance's complaint is that the BMC does not have enough powers and that the state is not cooperating.


All they want to do is blame others for their ineffective governance. How many times have they called the chief minister and other ministers for personal work? Have they called the CM even once to organise a meeting to solve Mumbai's problems?



You're saying the saffron alliance has done a bad job.

Of course. Hundreds of crores have been spent, but nobody knows what has been done with the money. For instance, the BMC spent Rs 675 crore on gardens. What was done with that? They could have built a Disneyland with it. The plots that were supposed to be acquired as open spaces have been gifted away. People are not being taken into confidence when decisions are taken. Everything is done in hush-hush manner. For the Sena, the BMC is a hen that lays golden eggs.



Has the BMC provided decent basis amenities?

Look at city's roads. Think about their condition during the monsoon. Despite that, Rs 550-crore worth of road contracts were given to the same contractors who did a bad job earlier. The BMC had to spend Rs 60 crore only to fill potholes. When it spent Rs 6,000 crore of taxpayers' money on building roads, why were they not built well enough?



What is your promise to the city?

I don't believe in manifestos. My focus will be on basic infrastructure. The city needs good roads, pavements, better healthcare. Why can't the state and BMC work out quick solutions to the city's perennial problems? Technology has advanced so much that we can take advantage of it and solve city's problems.



So the Shiv Sena is your enemy number 1?


For me, it is the fight between the ruling party and the MNS. It could be the Sena-BJP in Mumbai, the NCP in Pune. Our fight is against those who have been in power for a long time and done nothing. We want to give people a better option to the Sena-BJP and Congress-NCP alliances.



How many seats will you win?


I won't predict the number, but I will have the highest number of corporators. There will be surprises. Before the 2009 Assembly polls, people laughed when I used to say we would win a considerable number of seats. We won 13 seats. Now, again, I am saying - wait for surprises.



Will you support Sena-BJP or Congress-NCP if there is hung House and you are in a position to tilt the balance of power?

I don't contest polls on the basis of ifs and buts. I am contesting to win the BMC. I appeal to voters to give clear majority to any one party.



Uddhav Thackeray seems to be going soft on north Indians.


My stand on the issue does not change. He has taken so many U-turns that he has completed a circle.



Wasn't it surprising to see rebels in your party?


There are no rebels in the MNS. Some people were unhappy because they didn't get the party ticket, but I pacified them. Such a scramble for party candidature indicates we are close to winning.