Palghar bypoll: I have never seen so much money being distributed, says Bahujan Vikas Aaghadi chief Hitendra Thakur
Bypoll for the Palghar district near Mumbai will be held this Monday. It was in January this year that the sitting MP of the district from BJP Chintaman Wanaga died of a heart attack and since then BJP has been wanting to retain its seat while other political parties have been eyeing this seat.
It is for the first time that Shiv Sena and BJP have been pitted against each other and both the parties have been vociferously attacking each other. However, there is one party which is silently trying to reach out to its voters without the jingbang of the bigger parties and that is the Bahujan Vikas Aghadi (BVA).
India Today spoke to BVA chief Hitendra Thakur about the upcoming the Palghar bypoll. Here are the excerpts from the interview.
Q - BJP has been bringing in its star campaigners and even Shiv Sena leader Uddhav Thackeray himself has been holding rallies to get votes. While your party has only held one rally. Do you think you have been able to reach out to the voters?
A - These parties have come to only create farce during election. Both these parties - Shiv Sena and BJP have been in power for the last four years at state and central level. Campaigning has reached such low levels, the kind of language that is used has never been used in election campaigns. But, ask them to show one work that they have done for the people of Palghar.
On the other hand, we work through the year. We have been instrumental in getting local trains upto Dhanu. We got Mumbai high gas to Vasai. We got water supply for Vasai Virar area and have started hospitals were most of the deliveries happen in government hospitals. Government buses in other districts like Mumbai and Thane are in huge loss, but in our area it is in profit. We did not do any rallies except one where more than 30-35 thousand people came. While for these star campaigners even a few thousand people did not turn up. Chief minister himself is holding nukkad meetings. Is this to be done by someone of the stature of chief minister? Had they really worked, they would not have to campaign so much.
Q - But, BJP too has been bringing in infrastructure projects for this area. The railway tracks will be extended up to Virar, the bullet train will pass through this area.
A - I am not talking about plans. What have they done for this area? And what good is the bullet train which will be used by 5000 people only. We don't want bullet train. Instead of spending that Rs 1 lakh crore on bullet train, spend it on the suburban train service. Thousands die every year due to this train service. This infrastructure should be improved where 75 lakh people travel every day. From our Palghar district seven lakh people use the suburban train service every day. We already had Mumbai-Ahmedabad highway, now there is Baroda Expressway, then there is the Mumbai-Delhi freight corridor and now for this bullet train, for all these projects our lands are taken away. How much land should we give away? Just improve the existing railway infrastructure.
Q - Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis has apparently said that "saam daam, dand and bhed" everything should be used to win this election for BJP at any cost". Do you think it is okay for a chief minister to say that?
A - He has said that in Vasai today. Many people of Palghar might be illiterate, but they are cultured and use their head. People can see their level of campaigning. They are lost in power which has gone to their head and are using money and state machinery to get votes. But, people here can see that. He came to Palghar and called me a dog. People of Palghar did not like that, but I said yes I am a dog. I am a loyal dog of the voters of Palghar for the last 30 years. He is the Chief Minister of state. We are small people and call him "Sahab", but it is not right for a chief minister to say such things.
Q - There are allegations against you also of using the same "saam daam, dand and bhed" to win elections.
A - Which party is in power at state and central level? They are using the entire machinery to get votes. They are using, revenue, police, ZP, town planning, all officers have been told to go to their areas to ask people to vote. This is misuse of machinery. But if anyone believes that I have used "saam daam, dand and bhed", then complaint against us. Saam is everyone's right, to make people understand. But this is daam dand bhed. I have never fought or used dam dand bhed during elections.
Q - There was an allegation levelled against BJP where some money was found that was being distributed. Now, you are levelling allegation of using state machinery. But is money also being used? Why did you not try to bring it out in the open the way Uddhav Thackeray and his party are doing it?
A - There is no limit to money being spent in this election. The way money is being spent for this bypoll, I have never seen so much money being distributed ever. It's everywhere. Shiv Sena party workers are said to have brought out how money is being distributed by the other party. But, it should really be investigated how all these people are getting so much of money. There is nothing called as code of conduct now. At government offices, almost everywhere there are posters and officers are being pressurised. And these officers can't do anything as the election will get over tomorrow and these people will be transferred. There is nothing like Election Commission also now.
Q - Do you think with BJP and Shiv Sena contesting against each other will enhance your candidates chance of winning this election?
A - Shiv Sena did not have a candidate, so they imported from BJP. BJP imported their candidate from Congress. Until recently, this leader was levelling allegations against chief minister and alleging that children are dying due to malnutrition created by the chief minister and suddenly he has become holy for them. So their alliance or fighting against each other does not matter to me. This constituency has 17 lakh voters. Approximately eight lakh people will cast their vote. Am sure my candidate will get 3.5 lakh votes and the rest of the votes will be divided between BJP, Shiv Sena, Congress, and others will not reach near ours.