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I will win: Govinda

Govinda's popularity is giving Naik nightmares. But will it get him the votes?
PTI | By HT Correspondent, Mumbai
PUBLISHED ON APR 09, 2004 01:50 PM IST

Film Star Govinda is giving five-time incumbent from Mumbai North constituency Ram Naik nightmares every day. His popularity is already a handy tool, he speaks fluent Marathi to connect with the people and though Naik might dismiss him as a non-serious candidate, the film star is proving each day that he is no pushover and is becoming more and more conversant with the issues troubling these constituents with each passing day. Govinda spoke to Viju B on a wide range of subjects -- from why he entered politics to issues to close  to his heart.

Why did you enter the electoral fray?
I have been in the film field for the past 18 years. I have got a lot of love and affection from people around me. Now it is the time to give back what I have got. And I thought the best way to do it  is  by serving the people. I feel I can do a lot for this constituency, as I grew up here and I know the problems faced by the people here. I am confident I can address these issues in Parliament if I win  from here.

What are the  problems faced by the people here?
I am addressing three basic issues: transport, health and education.  The suburban trains which are the life line of Mumbai are overcrowded and it is high time we found an alternative mode of transport.  The western line is packed and it is impossible to travel during the peak hours.

There are no good hospitals like Breach Candy or Lilavati hospital here and as a result people have to go to town for getting quality medical treatment. There are also no good schools like the ones we have in south Mumbai. These are the basic facilities that need to be addressed here.

Your rival candidate BJP's  Ram Naik, said that the screen presence of a film star will not translates into votes. How do you react to this statement?
The BJP is forgetting that even they have film stars like Shatrugan Sinha and Vinod Khanna  in their party who  went on to become  union ministers in their  government.  This time, too, they have also inducted lots of film stars for election campaigning. So what is wrong in people coming from the film world to contest elections?  It only matters whether ultimately you deliver the goods or not.

Ram Naik also criticised your train journey  from Borivili  to Virar and said that this violated the election code by using government services for personal campaign.
I did not  travel in the train for election campaigning. I had gone to the local  temple in Virar that is close to my home for taking the blessings of God before beginning my campaign. I also wanted to get the 'feel' of the second class suburban travel as I was doing it after 18  years. I had taken a second class ticket and traveled from Borivli to Virar along with fellow passengers during the peak hour in the morning.

Your rivals say that you have moved to posh upmarket Juhu  and  you are an outsider in Virar now.
I was always known  to  have hailed from Virar and I proudly say this every time. I still keep in touch with the people here and conduct shows here annually. I also help the locals when the need arises. I speak the local Marathi better than many Maharashtrians. (Govinda's  parents hails from Gujranwala in  Punjab which is now part of Pakistan). I always begin my campaigning by going to the temple in that region. In Palghar, for instance, I went to the old Ram  temple. I am firmly rooted here.

How do you rate your chances for victory?
I have a got a good response where ever I go and I hope to win by a huge margin.

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