BJP is not trustworthy, businessmen are leading the government: Arvind Sawant | Mumbai news - Hindustan Times
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BJP is not trustworthy, businessmen are leading the government: Arvind Sawant

ByTeam Hindustan Times
May 11, 2024 09:10 AM IST

In a round table with Team Hindustan Times on Friday, the veteran Sena leader spoke about the redevelopment of BDD chawl and the Sewri cluster revival

Mumbai: Arvind Sawant, two-time MP from Shiv Sena (UBT), is batting for a hat-trick in the upcoming elections. This time he faces Eknath Shinde-led Shiv Sena candidate Yamini Jadhav from the coveted Mumbai South constituency. In a round table with Team Hindustan Times on Friday, the veteran Sena leader spoke about the revival of MTNL, the redevelopment of BDD chawl, the Sewri cluster redevelopment project and developing government lands belonging to National Textile Corporation (NTC), railways and the Mumbai Port Authority (MbPA). Sawant expressed optimism about his victory, attributing it to his previous successes solely based on “people’s love”.

Mumbai, India - May 10, 2024: Mahavikas Aghadi candidate from Mumbai South Lok Sabha Constituency and Shiv Sena (UBT) Party`s MP Arvind Sawant talked about his vision for the constituency in an interaction with the HT Mumbai team at HT office,in Mumbai, India, on Friday, 10, 2024.(Photo by Raju Shinde/ Hindustan Times)
Mumbai, India - May 10, 2024: Mahavikas Aghadi candidate from Mumbai South Lok Sabha Constituency and Shiv Sena (UBT) Party`s MP Arvind Sawant talked about his vision for the constituency in an interaction with the HT Mumbai team at HT office,in Mumbai, India, on Friday, 10, 2024.(Photo by Raju Shinde/ Hindustan Times)

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It’s on in full swing; I am seeing jubilation among people for the first time. On the other hand, there is much agony among them on the way the present government is dealing with different communities. The way the honourable PM issues statements every day is a matter of concern. It isn’t fair that a particular community is being targeted. People are waiting for elections to show politicians their real might.

What are the big issues in your constituency?

Mumbai was vibrant because of Mumbai Port Authority (MbPA) and the textile mills. I have been pursuing the development of Mumbai port land for the last 10 years. The government took a favourable stand initially, but when it was time for action it went cold. We wanted to turn the space into a tourist hub with a convention centre built along international standards.

The plan to develop the National Textile Corporation (NTC) was paralysed by the pandemic. As the employees were not paid in full, they moved court and filed contempt petition. However, the day after Piyush Goyal’s candidature was announced, their full payment was released.

I had also requested that those residing in dilapidated buildings on NTC land should be allowed to self-redevelop their houses but no permission was granted. There is also the issue to redevelop BDD chawl and the Sewri cluster.

Unemployment is a major concern at 30% and the percentage of ageing population is high at 20% in Mumbai South.

You are the two-time sitting MP and there could be anti-incumbency. What is your poll pitch?

It is pro-incumbent – I am the most accessible and available person, and people love me for that.

Do you encounter friction when you seek to get your work done, as you are in the opposition?

Of course. Earlier, we would get an acknowledgement and reply to our letters. Now we only get acknowledgement. The gentleman sitting at the top – the honourable PM -- has stopped the development of MbPA. We can only write letters, protest and agitate.

Would it have been a better idea if Shiv Sena (UBT) were in government?

Not at all. There can be no platonic love with BJP. Superficially, they show they are on our side but they have an agenda. Shiv Sena is the only party which is oldest in alliance. BJP flourished because of Shiv Sena, particularly with Balasaheb’s blessings, in Maharashtra. BJP is not trustworthy at all as businessmen are leading the government. It is not honourable as Vajpayee’s government.

In the post Modi-Shah era, do you see Shiv Sena (UBT) and BJP coming together?

Not at all. We have had a very bitter experience with them. We are deeply hurt by the way the Thackeray family’s image has been tarnished.

A lot of ill-will has surfaced between Maharashtrian and Gujarati communities.

That was a response to an advertisement that Marathi applicants cannot apply for jobs despite raising businesses in Maharashtra. It is akin to builders not allowing Maharashtrians to buy flats. The friction is seen on ground level because of PM Modi shifting all industries that were to come to the state, in the last five years. Is he taking revenge on Mumbai? He has made the state of Gujarat the villain of the country.

Are you banking on Samajwadi Party for support from the minority community?

It is a good thing that both Samajwadi Party and Congress have support from the minority community; and as they are in alliance with us, it will work in our favour.

Will you take up the issue of takeover of elite clubs and gymkhanas by the government?

Their autonomy should not be disturbed. Why does the CM want to nominate 50 free life members from the state government? It is up to the clubs to decide.

Your opponent Yamini Jadhav is from a different faction of Shiv Sena. Are you concerned?

Not at all. There are charges against them and there is an affidavit on the 143 crore tax money the opponent is supposed to pay. The IT department has served a notice – people are aware of this.

You started your career with MTNL. What is its status?

I am deeply concerned. Both MTNL and BSNL should have been revived because they have the assets. Manpower should be treated as an asset, not liability. Technology is already available. Prior to 2014 elections, a big hue and cry was made about 2G and 3G scam, which were manufactured. Now that it is in the past, why were MTNL and BSNL not revived?

When all other companies were launching 2G, 3G and 4G, MTNL was not able to do so.

They deliberately strangulated the two companies which has terrific land assets — 23 acres in Borivali.

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