Congratulations on your victory for the 4th term. How important was this victory to you?
Thank you very much! I would like to dedicate this victory to the people of my constituency. I am indebted to them for their support and for voting in large numbers and ensuring my win with a big margin. For the 4th time, they have reposed their faith in me and I believe that my responsibility towards them is even more this time. My focus would be on interacting with the people, be easily accessible, undertake development work in the area, maintain law & order, ensure communal harmony and strive for infrastructure improvement.
Did you at any time doubt your chances to win?
Not at all! I was confident from day one that the people of my area would never let me down as I have never neglected them. During the last 15 years I have held various posts like, the first Muslim to be Minister of State for Home (Urban) of Maharashtra since the state came into existence in 1960, Cabinet Minister for Textiles, Minorities Development and AUKAF in the Government of Maharashtra and also Guardian Minister of Mumbai Suburban District. Even when I held these posts I would always spend time in my constituency.
What are the major development works you have completed in the last 15 years?
While there may be numerous development work that have been executed over the past 15 years, the ones that has a significant impact on the people of my constituency would include Jogeshwari - Vikhroli Link Road, Santacruz- Chembur Link Road, Ghatkopar-Andheri link road, work is partially completed in Andheri-Kurla road with only the patch between Kamani and Sakinaka is to be completed, the first metro services between Andheri and Ghatkopar. The road from Ghatkopar to Powai via Kailash Complex was opened, though I agree that the patch at the entrance of Powai is terrible, but the matter is subjudice. The beautification of the Powai Lake was done by constructing a promenade.
I have always extended help to all the residential complexes by personally attending and even taking bureaucrats to tackle issues. The CC road from Kherani to Nahar Complex was developed by us through the BMC. Besides, we have constructed Cremation grounds for Hindus and Muslim, maternity hospital for the poor in Bail bazaar and a new police station for Powai in Rambaugh. Another contribution has been the widening, deepening and development of the Mithi River though we accept that a lot of work is yet to be completed along the 16km long river.
What was the promise you made to the people of your constituency during your election campaign?
Our major promise is to develop the ‘Green Zone’ (Asalpha and Mohili). They need to be deleted as ‘Green Zone’ and be brought under the ‘Development Zone’ so that the slums can be developed and basic amenities like RG, PG, Hospital, Gardens, etc can be provided.
What can the people of Chandivali and Powai look forward to?
An ITI has been sanctioned by the previous government and we would like to undertake the development of the institute in the area. This will give the lower middle class an opportunity to develop their skill and in turn get job opportunities. Besides this, we have a proposal to construct an elevated road on JVLR that will connect the western express highway to the eastern express highway. This will significantly reduce the traffic on JVLR.
How did you get into politics?
The former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi was my idol. Watching him I was inspired to join politics and became a part of Youth Congress when I was very young. Over the years, I rose through the ranks by working hard particularly on communal harmony. In 1992, I won the Tata Institute of Science award for communal harmony and was fortunate to receive the award from Shri Dilip Kumar. I was also the first President of the Peace Committee of Maharashtra. I worked hard for the education sector and for the poor. It was in 1999 that I participated in my first election and won handsomely; subsequently I became the youngest Minister.
Do you think it was the most difficult of all the elections for you considering the BJP wave?
It was the most confusing election for the voters. With all the parties fighting independently without any alliance, the voters found it difficult to make up their mind. I personally believe that we as Congress party did not effectively highlight and communicate our achievements like, the facelift to the city with the metro, monorail, freeway and many big development and infrastructure projects. The split with the NCP was also another factor for the poor performance as the decision to go ahead alone was almost on the day of the nomination. Here I would like to say that not even a single Congress minister in the state had any allegation of corruption against him. I strongly believe that Congress being a spirited party will bounce back and again be a force to reckon with in the political landscape of Maharashtra.
How do you balance your political and personal life?
Very difficult! My family complains that I don’t give them enough time but they have been very supportive of me and my cause of working for the people.
I always meet people with respect (he stands up to receive people), listen to their woes and try to solve them. I’ve never taken off even on a Sunday; in fact I’ve not taken a break for the last 15 years. I have dedicated my life for the service of the people which has been instrumental for my success every time.