Sitting Congress MP Eknath Gaikwad has represented Mumbai south-central constituency since 2004. A three-time MLA from Dharavi, who has served as state minister, he has not fulfilled most of the promises he made to voters in 2009, and most significantly the completion of the Dharavi redevelopment project.
Your tenure as MP has been described as lacklustre. Why should people vote for you?
I don’t believe in shouting and screaming. I have been working diligently and even took a delegation to the Prime Minister to address Mumbai’s problems. I have approached various departments in Delhi to plead the city’s case.
You promised to complete the redevelopment of Dharavi, but there has been hardly any progress.
It’s a big project and needs time. The last few years were spent convincing the people for the project. It does not involve just a single building or plot, but a huge area. Apart from buildings, the entire infrastructure needs to be beefed up, it cannot be done in a hurry. The project has started and people are happy that they will shift to new houses. It’s the Opposition that has a problem and is misleading people in the name of bigger homes, which is not possible.
Though Mumbai contributes a lot to the Union government, there’s very little payback. What did you do for the city?
The Central government has been generous with the city — we have seen so many schemes funded by it, such as the metro, its grant for the sewage system and hospitals. I have always got a positive response for the projects I have proposed.
You have spent just 70% of your funds.
The problem is the whole framework which consumes a lot of time. I had applied for more funds, but red-tapism created hurdles. However, if you see, majority of my funds have been spent for the poor people to provide them basic amenities. Other issues such as infrastructure have also got funds from me.
Graphic: Eknath Gaikwad's performance report