FPJ Group owner Ashok Karnani (L) and Director Abhishek Karnani
(R) receive Rahul Narvekar (C), BJP-Shiv Sena candidate, who paid visit to Free Press Journal and Navshakti office.
FPJ Group owner Ashok Karnani (L) and Director Abhishek Karnani (R) receive Rahul Narvekar (C), BJP-Shiv Sena candidate, who paid visit to Free Press Journal and Navshakti office.
—BL SONI

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has fielded Rahul Narvekar from the Colaba assembly constituency for the upcoming election. Taking some time off his tight campaigning schedule, Narvekar visit the offices of The Free Press Journal and Navshakti and interacted with the editorial team. He gave insights on his priorities if elected and explained what makes the BJP so popular and why he is not particularly worried about the opposition.

Colaba is the administrative headquarters of the city. It has a mixed demography, with a majority of Kolis and slum dwellers. What will you offer them once you become a legislator?

Colaba is a prestigious constituency, where the electorate only votes for those who have worked for them. It has a population of about 6.5 lakhs, but being the administrative headquarters and housing other important institutions, the area has a floating population of 40 lakhs on a regular basis.

This puts immense strain on the roads, water supply and hygiene. My primary agenda will be to carry out development for all. Slum rehabilitation, providing civic amenities like proper parking space and resolving water problems will be on the top of my list. I will renovate the Sassoon Docks market.

The Mumbai Port Trust has already sanctioned Rs 60 crore for this purpose. Also, the renovation of the Colaba fish market and other natural markets will be my priority.

Before joining the BJP you were with the Shiv Sena. What made you migrate? Are there any ideological differences between the two allies?

Though the BJP-Sena are allies, there are a few differences. For example, the Sena is an extreme right-wing party, while the BJP is comparatively liberal. Also, the BJP focuses on both economic and infrastructure development.

Because of the development it has carried out, the effective counter-terrorism measures it has taken and by building a sense of nationalism among the people, the BJP has gained immense popularity, not just among the people of Maharashtra but also in India.

Those who are protesting the tree-cutting at Aarey are being arrested by police. The BJP and the Sena also protested (Enron project) when they were in the opposition. So, why such a change in attitude now?

Yes, we held protests and demonstrations on the streets when we were in the opposition, but we never disrespected the judiciary. Those cutting the trees were just following court orders. Litigation and protests are not only delaying the completion of government projects but are also making these dearer and it is the taxpayers' money we are talking about.

More than others, there are NGOs which are taking issue. But in a democracy, everything must be dealt with in a systematic manner. Consensus and dialogue take time.

As for me, I am a complete environmentalist, I have worked to save trees in Cuffe Parade (for Metro III) and we were successful.

Bhai Jagtap from the Congress is your opponent from Colaba.

I don’t worry too much about the opposition, as the Congress is suffering from a leadership crisis. Bhai Jagtap is not a local, unlike me. Four generations of my family, including myself have served here and I know the pulse of the people. Jagtap has interacted with the people here for six months, at the most.

He has not done anything for them. So I think it will be easy for me to win. This election looks like a one-sided contest. Also, this is not just the situation in Maharashtra but throughout the country. With the BJP’s increasing popularity, the ground appears to be slipping from underneath the opposition.

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