Lok Sabha Elections 2019: Improving Pune’s transport is my top priority, says Girish Bapat
In his interaction with Team HT, Girish Bapat, senior Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader and party’s nominee for Pune Lok Sabha seat, said that with 100 per cent support from Shiv Sena and Republican Party of India (RPI), he is confident of LS Pune seat victory. Following are the excerpts..
BJP has been in power in the municipal corporation, state and central governments. What according to you are the achievements for Pune under your party’s government?
Our list of achievements include piped gas connections, expansion of existing airport (Lohegaon) along with the work related to new international airport (Purandar), and town planning scheme done by the Pune Metropolitan Region Development Authority (PMRDA). Also, the Metro corridor was our dream and we started the project under our tenure and is getting completed at a fast pace. Right from Smart City projects to 24x7 water supply scheme and expansion of national highways to Bhama Askhed project, we have a huge list of accomplishments.
Metro rail project has turned out to be the biggest advertisement campaigner.
Yes, it is true. We not only got three Metro lines approved for the city, but also started the work on ground. We plan to start the Swargate-Chinchwad route by the end of December as stated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The Metro lines will decongest many areas, including Hinjewadi where a large number of IT professionals work.
If you are elected, what will be your top priorities as an MP from Pune?
The top priority will be streamlining and improving Pune’s transport system. The city needs a proper planning of roads which will include construction of underpasses, creation of one-ways. Also, improving the fleet strength of transport utility Pune Mahanagar Parivahan Mahamandal Ltd (PMPML) is important besides developing other mass transport options. Development of new parking lots is also important, besides improving the garbage treatment systems in the city.
As MP, will you focus on national or local issues?
I have got a huge opportunity of serving the people of Pune and I will continue to do so. Pune will always be my top priority.
As far as Pune is concerned, what according to you are the key challenges?
Every developmental work needs human rehabilitation which is a major challenge for me. Also, I am unsatisfied with the slum rehabilitation authority (SRA) scheme of the previous government. If the construction is not economically viable, the beneficiaries will not use the housing facility.
You list Bhama Askhed project as one of your achievements. Do you think political reason was major reason for its delay?
Whatever has happened is past now. Bhama Askhed project is a very long pending issue. I am sure that I will complete the project.
Politicians and city police department have been at loggerheads when it came to the implementation of the compulsory helmet rule. What is your take on the issue?
I have made it clear that I am not against the compulsory helmet rule. However, I am of the view that it should not be made compulsory in the peth areas of the city where owing to the thick population, the speed is below 40-50 km/hr. As far as highways are concerned, helmets should be made compulsory. I had requested for these changes to the police department.
While sitting MP Anil Shirole was denied the ticket, you are chosen to represent the party from the Pune Lok Sabha constituency. Congress has fielded Mohan Joshi against you. How are you placed in the contest?
I have been serving as an elected representative in the city for the past 43 years and have a loyal base of voters who have seen and commended my work. As far as the Congress candidate is concerned, Mohan Joshi is my friend. However, I feel he should avoid making personal comments and debate over developmental issues that concern the city.
After the BJP-Shiv Sena reunion, are you getting complete support from your alliance partners?
I am getting 100 per cent support from Shiv Sena and Republican Party of India (RPI). We are working together in the polls and I am confident of my win.
What is your definition of Hindu Rashtra?
My definition of Hindu Rashtra is inclusiveness. One can be of any caste, creed or religion; as long as an individual considers himself as an Indian and is proud of it, he hits in my concept of Hindu Rashtra. As far as the term Hindu Rashtra is concerned, earlier the name of this country was Hindustan and, hence it is Hindu Rashtra.
What is your view about LK Advani’s blog?
Advaniji is the senior-most man in the party and has a different image. What he intends through his blog is that you must contest elections and run the party, but don’t cross the limits. PM Modi might have expected the same. However, it does not mean that the blog was aimed at Modi. The blog should be thought in a broad- minded manner.