Mumbai: The Mumbai North Central Lok Sabha, which covers areas like Bandra and Kurla in the metropolis, will once again see the BJP’s Poonam Mahajan pitted against Congress’ Priya Dutt. In the 2014 polls, Majahan had defeated Priya Dutt, a two-time MP, by a margin of 1.8 lakh votes. Dutt is the daughter of cinestar-turned-politician Sunil Dutt who represented the constituency for five terms while Mahajan is the daughter of late Pramod Mahajan, one of the BJP’s foremost strategists as well as a former MP from the city’s North East seat.
Speaking to PTI, Mahajan sounded confident about her prospects stressing that the BJP had made tremendous inroads in the constituency once considered a Congress citadel thanks to the Dutt father-daughter duo. “If you see the BJP’s vote share in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls and the 2017 civic polls, which the Sena and the BJP contested separately, it has increased and has left the Congress far behind,” she said.
Talking of her own performance, the MP said, “I had promised to tackle housing and toilet issues of the people here. I have spent my MP fund on these and now, about 1,428 toilets have been constructed in Bandra, Kurla and Chandivali areas,” she said. “I have worked for redevelopment of 20,000 MHADA colonies with 580 square feet homes at three FSI. Similarly, 80,000 families will be rehabilitated from airport land,” she added.
While slum-dwellers on airport land in Kurla and Kalina will be relocated elsewhere, those in Vakola and Vile Parle will be rehabilitated “in situ” on 65 acre of such land that will be redeveloped.
She added that redevelopment of dilapidated buildings on Collector’s land will be possible now as the premium has been reduced considerable.
Dutt, on the other hand, said her fight is for people who believe in secularism and democracy. “Everyone who is secular and believes in our democracy has a responsibility to step up and play an active role to save it. I stand for the future of all children, including mine,” she said. She said the reason for her to earlier announce that she would not contest the 2019 Lok Sabha polls was personal and not due to alleged party infighting.
She said emotional appeals from her constituents as well as a request from party chief Rahul Gandhi to reconsider her decision made her jump into the poll fray again.”I didn’t expect to be in such an emotional dilemma.
Even Rahul ji, who was so kind in understanding my reasons to step back, advised me and asked me to reconsider. I simply could not say no to him and also be indifferent to the emotional appeals and overwhelming love from my constituents, party workers and colleagues,” she claimed.
Taking on her critics who have alleged she was aloof and invisible from party work after losing in 2014, Dutt said she was very much on the ground working for people through her NGO Nargis Dutt Foundation.
“Critics will always criticise. Every election is a challenge and I don’t worry too much about it and go with the flow. I will soon share my manifesto with the people,” she said. Speaking about her defeat in the 2014 polls, Dutt said, “My approach to elections has always been to put in my best, communicate what I stand for to my constituents and then leave it to them and respect their choice.” In January, Dutt had announced that she would not fight the 2014 polls.
“My boys are now 13 and 11 years old. I had missed so many special moments in their lives and wanted to be there for them more than ever before. My husband has steadily supported me all these years and has sacrificed much of his life to adjust to mine. It was time for me to be together with and for them,” she had said at the time.