Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) heavyweight Gopal Shetty retained Mumbai North Lok Sabha seat, defeating Congress nominee and Bollywood actor Urmila Matondkar by a margin of 4,65,247 votes. In an interview with DNA, Shetty says implementation of hawkers policy, development of amusement park in the city and removal of red tape for the realty sector will be his priorities
Congress’ move to checkmate you by fielding Bollywood actor Urmila Matondkar has failed as you won with a big margin. What factors went in your favour?
I have always respected Urmila Matondkar and refrained from criticising her, but I repeatedly said that I am opposed to the Congress’ ideology.
By and large, voters were convinced that Prime minister Narendra Modi is a strong leader who effectively handled the situation after the terrorist attack on CRPF jawans in Pulwama.
I was confident of winning. I have worked for this constituency for more than 27 years and the voters have ones again shown confidence in me.
Was your party’s decision to stitch an alliance with Shiv Sena benefited you?
I want to sincerely thank the chief minister Devendra Fadnavis for taking an initiative for a pre-poll alliance with Shiv Sena. Credit goes to Fadnavis as he brought Sena on board with a sole objective of winning more seats in the state.
In the second term what are your priorities for North Mumbai constituency?
In my first term as MP I succeeded to get Central Public Work Department’s plot for playground and school. I was instrumental in changing the 70-year-old water pipeline at Malad Malvani with the sanction of Rs 14 crore. Besides, road widening works were undertaken.
I will now focus on expediting slum redevelopment and rehabilitation projects. I have been talking about the implementation of a comprehensive policy for hawkers in the city as they are part of the system and not the problem. I have already met the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation commissioner Praveen Pardeshi in this regard. Hawkers should earn their means of livelihood with respect but they should strictly adhere to stipulated norms. They should not encroach roads and create a hurdle for traffic.
The realty sector is passing through a crisis. I had sought the intervention of chief minister and BMC commissioner to provide all the clearances on a fast track as the officers are sitting on the files and taking their own sweet time for giving their approvals. I will start a sit-in dharna if clearances are not provided expeditiously.
Further, as MP I am ashamed that there is not a single amusement park for children in the city. I have submitted a memorandum to BMC. I will work for the same.