2019 Lok Sabha elections: Mumbai MP Rahul Shewale talks about his performance
Fighting for his second term from the Mumbai South Central constituency, Shiv Sena MP Rahul Shewale, in HT office, said he has been aggressively pushing issues concerning Mumbai before the Central government. He said they have formed a group of 56 MPs, who are either elected from Mumbai or stay in Mumbai, to raise issues concerning the city. The leader feels convincing voters to vote for the saffron combine, despite their bickering, will not be a problem as voters themselves wanted the two parties to join hands. Excerpts:
How will you present Mumbai’s important issues before the Centre? What is your agenda and how will you implement it?
My agenda is to implement the development plan (DP) 2034 which has almost been finalised. Just seven per cent of the last DP was implemented. Mumbai’s whole infrastructure is dependent on this DP. We need the Centre’s help to implement it. I am pushing for a special package for the DP and have been raising this issue in Parliament for the past two years.
Mumbai has six MPs. They have not been seen raising their voice for the city collectively in Parliament…
Not six, we have a group of 56 MPs from Mumbai. I have been instrumental in setting it up. These MPs have their official residence in Mumbai, although they have been elected from across the country, including places such as Andhra Pradesh and Assam. We tell them this is your karmabhoomi and you need to raise your voice for it. All six MPs have taken the initiative. We got MUTP-3A project for the city and also got ₹33,000 crore for railways, which has been approved by the Union cabinet. We also eased CRZ rules, solving the problem of redevelopment along the coastline. There is a system in place and it is a collective voice.
The Dharavi redevelopment project is pending, despite a promise in 2014 that it will be completed soon in 2014.
Dharavi work has been pending for the past 15 years, as there were various problems. I requested chief minister Devendra Fadnavis that we need to have a special project vehicle (SPV), so it can be done fast. As I am in the Railway Committee, I ensured land for the project. Later, two companies —Seclink and Adani Group – came in. This project will start within a month and will be completed in the next five years.
In the last five years, your party, the Shiv Sena, has been constantly attacking the BJP-led government. How difficult was it to work in such a hostile environment?
The clashes were in the state government and not at the Central level. In case of the state government, the problem was frequent elections and they (the BJP) tried to ensure the Shiv Sena does not get credit. However, we had no issues with Union ministers from Maharashtra such as Nitin Gadkari, Suresh Prabhu or Piyush Goyal.
How did you enter into an alliance in such circumstances?
We both have common voters and they wanted an alliance. After the Pulwama attack, the situation was very different. We were under pressure from voters. They said don’t come to us if you don’t have an alliance.
It is seen that Dalits are angry with the Sena-BJP over the failure of the government to arrest the culprits of the Bhima-Koregaon violence?
There is no such thing in my constituency. I don’t go on the basis of caste and I will be judged on my performance.
You had given a ₹450-crore proposal to redevelop Dadar station, but the Railway ministry stalled it…
There were two issues – they give land on a maximum 30-year lease and don’t sub-lease it. As a railway board committee member, I had proposed 90 years lease, with the option of sub-leasing. They have agreed to that. I proposed that the railways should be the planning authority and even this has been accepted. Now, all railway station redevelopment works will get an FSI of 5.
The MNS has been campaigning for the Congress-NCP. Will you feel the heat?
The MNS cadre was in the Sena with me before they joined the MNS. Hence, even if their chief (Raj Thackeray) says anything, it will not impact them. MNS workers are Marathis and they will never vote for the Congress. Unlike other Mumbai constituencies, here, all candidates are Maharashtrians. Such appeal may work in other constituencies, but not here.
You have pushed for large-scale infrastructure projects, but BEST continues to bleed and there is no respite given to it.
BEST should get aid and I am trying to get it from the Centre. As the Central Government gives ₹3,000 crore to the Delhi Electricity board, the same should be given to BEST.
Mumbai still does not have a world-class international finance centre. The current plans are piecemeal.
There is a reserved plot in Bandra-Kurla Complex for the international finance centre. The MMRDA is working out a plan to create another BKC. Even the MbPT, which will free up its land, will offer good scope. For an international city, we need to implement the DP.