Cover story by Priya Sahgal: Campaign trail with Milind Deora

Milind Deora, sitting MP and Congress candidate from Mumbai South, reached the Marathi-dominated Girgaum area along with Congress leader Bhai Jagtap and state women’s commission chairperson Sushiben Shah, he was given a traditional welcome. Then began his yatra to seek votes. Initially, the crowd was small, but later it swelled.

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Voter fatigue is a factor, but I have good connect with people: Milind Deora

Milind Deora, 38, is seeking re-election for a third term from the prestigious Mumbai South constituency in the background of a strong anti-incumbency wave sweeping the nation. He is being vehemently opposed by Arvind Sawant of Shiv Sena-BJP alliance and Meera Sanyal of Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), who made an unsuccessful attempt to unseat him in 2009. Milind took time off from his hectic election engagements to speak to dna Excerpts:
milind in dna
Does the powerful anti-incumbency factor caused by high level of inflation and humungous corruption in the UPA government worry you?
The UPA has been in power for ten years and voter fatigue is only to be expected. It is certainly a challenge. But in Mumbai South, I will be able to neutralise this factor because I have good connect with people, whether in slums or highrises. I also have a strong, active organisational network. Then, we have the support of NCP leaders like Sachin Ahir. Also, I have personal equation with the traders. People also know me through my father, who represented this area for several years.

Meera Sanyal has accused you, the minister of state for shipping, of not doing anything to stop the construction of a container terminal at Indira Dock, despite JNPT across the harbour operating only at 50% of its capacity. The project would result in the entry of thousands of truck trailers into the already congested city roads.
The decision to build the container terminal was taken by the Mumbai Port Trust several years before I became an MP, leave alone a minister. In fact, in my capacity as an MP, I have raised the issue of the terminal. But trade unions were fully in favour of the project as that would generate employment. The Port Trust has spent crores of rupees on the project. It would be inadvisable to let so much money go down the drain. In any case, Port Trust is an autonomous body and I have avoided interfering in its functioning lest there be allegations of corruption. I think Ms Sanyal should get her facts right.

In 2009, the MNS factor helped you win. Are you banking on that party to bail you out this time too by splitting Marathi votes?
I do not depend on any other party, and don’t look at my voters in terms of Marathi, non-Marathi, etc. I have an inclusive agenda and believe in working for all people. Incidentally, my mother is a Marathi and I speak the language fluently. I am seeking votes on the strength of my work and the good work done by my party. Everyone knows that Shiv Sena and MNS are “todfod” (violent) parties, many of whose people extort money. In Mumbai South people believe in enterprise and want law and order. Parties like Shiv Sena and MNS simply do not fit into the positive culture of this constituency.

There has been criticism about your performance.
My attendance as an MP has been 90%, way above the national average. Also, the number of questions I have asked is twice the national average. Of course, after I became a minister I couldn’t ask questions. But, I have been following issues pertaining to my constituency and the metropolis with various departments, both in Mumbai and Delhi.

Coming to specifics, I had a major role in introducing the concept of cluster development in my constituency under which old buildings are demolished and new ones with more civic amenities built. People get to live in bigger and safer homes. Two cluster-development projects are currently on in SoBo and I am committed to making them successful because they are models not only for the redevelopment of Mumbai, but all cities in India.

I also openly supported the residents of Campa Cola compound who were going to be evicted for no fault of theirs. Certain builders and BMC officials are hand in glove, and innocent flat-buyers are put to hardship. I worked hard for setting up a state housing regulatory mechanism. I want to end flat-buyers being exploited by builders and corrupt officials.

As the shipping minister, I initiated lighthouse tourism, and soon, two lighthouses across the Mumbai harbour will be thrown open to the public. I also favoured an estate policy with a view to helping tenants on Port Trust land. Thousands will benefit from this.

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Milind Deora dreams of bringing monorail all the way to Colaba

When, on Thursday, Milind Deora, sitting MP and Congress candidate from Mumbai South, reached the Marathi-dominated Girgaum area along with Congress leader Bhai Jagtap and state women’s commission chairperson Sushiben Shah, he was given a traditional welcome. Then began his yatra to seek votes. Initially, the crowd was small, but later it swelled.

On his route from Raja Rammohan Roy Marg to Khadilkar Road, a large number of people greeted him with flowers and garlands. Many people also assured him of support, but spoke of the “inordinate delay” in drafting a cluster development plan for old and dilapidated buildings in the area. On redevelopment too, the residents said the urban development department led by chief minister Prithviraj Chavan was dithering on a time-bound action plan.

Ramesh Thakur, a resident of Girgaum, said, “Deora is young and enthusiastic and has a clean image, but it appears he has not been able to influence the decision-making process for expeditious approval of cluster development and redevelopment projects.” In this area, where Deora spent nearly four hours, the refrain was constant: people wanted a comprehensive action plan for cluster development.

When Deora returned to his Pedder Road residence, more than 500 persons from Bhendi Bazar, Worli and Sewri were waiting for him with their problems and demands. Deora pacified them with assurances and was then again ready for his evening campaign in Mumbadevi, where the issue of cluster development and redevelopment is high on the agenda. Here, some voters congratulated him for his firm stand on the disqualification of convicted politicians.

Deora, a trusted aide of Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi and whose parliamentary constituency comprises Malabar Hill, Colaba, Worli, Sewri, Byculla and Mumbadevi, said that apart from the cluster growth and redevelopment of old and dilapidated buildings, items on top of his agenda were the cluster development of Bhendi Bazar, implementation of the Sewri Nhava Sheva sea link and opening up of land on the other side of the Mumbai harbour so that more land is created for affordable housing. “My dream project is to bring monorail to Colaba,” he said.

Deora proposed that the mayor be directly elected and have more powers. He claimed he had been instrumental in bringing in the cell phone tower radiation policy. “I am the MP of the ruling party, but I spoke against the ordinance on allowing convicted politicians to contest Lok Sabha polls. Later the ordinance was dropped,” he said. As minister of state, Deora was instrumental in drafting a tourism policy for lighthouses across the country.

Source: Times Of India
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Plan To Reduce Corruption Via E-Governance: Milind Deora

Milind Deora, Congress candidate from South Mumbai, Maharashtra says that if we want to reduce corruption and improve transparency in governance, we need to make governments smarter and smaller. And this can be achieved by e-governance which will reduce the human interface between the citizen and the government.

This initiative is part of Mera Neta, India’s largest candidate outreach programme, which has exclusive updates of the candidates contesting the Lok Sabha elections 2014 covering 542 constituencies and talking to 1000+ candidates across India.

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MP Milind Deora Talks About his Strategies of Using Social Media for Election Campaigning

As we know, this year’s election is one of the biggest elections of the decade and social media has played a very important role in it. Where the other parties have taken social media as a part of their campaign, there is a candidate who has been using social media from last three and a half years. Not only as a part of their campaign but also to interact with people and has also been successful in it. Though he has been successful in it, he still thinks that nothing can replace the old style of campaigning.

In his interview, MP Mr. Milind Deora tells us about his strategies of using social media as a part of campaigning for political parties and how can youth get attracted towards it.

What made you to choose social media as a communication channel?

I just think that the world is becoming smaller. In the 21st Century, social media has changed the way we communicate. It has the potential to reach out to millions within a fraction of a second compared to traditional media. For me personally, it has helped me put my thoughts out in the public domain and get a direct feedback from people.

As an early adopter of social media in political circles, how has the perception about social media evolved amongst politicians in the last few years?

Estimates suggest that in 2009, there were just 2 million users of Facebook in all of India and an insignificant number on Twitter. By May 2014, there will now be roughly 110 million Facebook users and 15 million Twitter users. These numbers speak a lot! In the last few months, many politicians have joined the social media bandwagon, be it Twitter, Facebook or writing Blogs. With many turning towards this medium tells us about their positive perception towards this new age communication.

Can social media really bring change in our society?

I believe it can. Over the years, many issues have been taken up on social media and kept alive for a long time. One such issue that I can remember is the Delhi gang rape incident. Social media kept the talk going on for a long time and I believe that played a major role in the many people taking notice and acting on it. For me personally, I started @UthSpeak, an apolitical platform where I have already taken up two issues which I have personally advocated for a long time.i.e Directly Elected Mayor through #DMDA and Gender Sensitization through #ProjectBadlaav.

How often social media is discussed in your meetings with your team members? What does such a discussion usually entail?

I have been on social media for the last 3 and half years. Since then, social media has been a very important communication tool for me. This being the election season, I do have a focused social media team which looks into strategizing and execution of the various plans we draw up.

Even though social media is growing, a lot of politicians are yet to adopt it. What could be the reason? How can we make them adopt and use social media effectively?

It does take time for people to adopt something new. As mentioned earlier, a lot of politicians have joined this medium and going forward many would join in.

With elections around the corner, how do you view the political campaigning of your chief competitors (AAP & NDA) on social media?

I have been on social media for the longest as compared to any of my competitors. I have always connected with people irrespective of an election or not. Putting out my last 10 years work has been my strategy and it seems to work really well.

How effective is social media for political campaigning vis-a-vis traditional channels of campaigning?

I believe nothing can replace the age old traditional style of campaigning. Connecting with your voters ‘In Person’ still has a great impact. Even the voters feel good to see their candidate who come down and meet them. As far as social media is concerned, it has helped me to reach out to a huge number of people. Also, a lot of first time voters are easier to reach out to on social media as compared to any other medium.

What is your social media strategy for this year’s general election?

I have been an MP for the last 10 years of South Mumbai. My primary focus on social media has always been to connect with my constituents and which I have been successful at. Taking a step forward, for the upcoming elections

I have crowd sourced my manifesto by running a hashtag #ToDoSoMu where people contributed their ideas to build India’s first interactive constituency focused manifesto.

To tell people about my work my team of have worked on an interactive map which puts out all the work I have done.

It is believed that most social media users are youngsters who hardly go out to vote. In such a scenario, how would you go about encouraging them to vote, especially for you?

The youth have always been early adopters of anything new on the Internet. Social media is one of the best platforms to connect with them. I believe there is a lot of enthusiasm this time around amongst the youth as compared to any of the previous elections. As for voting for me, I think first time voters should look at the parliamentary performance of a candidate and also vote for someone who will carry their voice to the Parliament.

Do you think social media has had an influence on modern day politics? If yes, how has it influenced? If not, why not?

We all know how social media influenced the 2012 elections of the United States and how effectively Barack Obama used it. In India, the 2014 elections will be the first time where social media will be explored to the fullest. Going forward, social media is going to bridge the gap between the Citizens and the Politicians.

Source: Social Samosa
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Milind attends debate forum, wants larger turnout in City

milind debate forumMilind Deora, Congress candidate from Mumbai South Parliamentary seat, attended a ‘Meet your Mumbai’ debate forum held in Mumbai on Sunday by V Citizens Action Network (VCAN) at C P Tank in South Mumbai.

The platform also saw the presence of other competing candidates from the constituency including Bala Nandgaokar of the MNS, Sena-BJP alliance representative Arvind Sawant and Meera Sanyal representing the Aam Aadmi Party.

In his opening remarks, Milind Deora said, “The primary responsibility of the Member of Parliament is to legislate and raise your voice for the people of your constituency over vested interests. I am proud that in the last 10 years, I’ve always spoken for my people and their needs. Performance in the assembly is a key parameter to map the success of a leader. I have an above national average of attendance in Parliament and I have raised questions in the assembly which is double than the national average. It’s an honour to represent the people of South Mumbai constituency who have rendered their continued support to me and my initiatives in the last decade. It is overwhelming to see that in 2004, we saw only 6.5 lakh voters in the constituency and today we have over 15 lakh voters, I urge you all to vote in this election.”

Source: The Free Press Journal
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Deora tries to leverage ‘anti-graft stand’ in Mumbai

I stood up against the move to allow convicted MPs to contest elections while their appeal was pending in a higher court,” said Mumbai South’s sitting Congress MP Milind Deora, as he tried to convince the audience of his credentials in fighting corruption in public life.

Deora was speaking at a meet-your-candidate event, organized by V Citizens Action Network, on Sunday at a hall in CP Tank. Apart from Deora, the meet was attended by candidates of all major political parties contesting from the constituency.

The sitting MP highlighted his role in regulating mobile tower radiation, an issue that has pitted activists against cell-tower companies in the city. He said his party had commissioned the first study on the effects of radiation on humans and animals.
Deora said economic growth, progress in mobile telephony and poverty alleviation were higher in the last 10 years than in any other period. “The last quarter may not have been good, but no other party offers solutions,” said Deora, while advocating a smarter, smaller government instead of adding layers, such as the Lokpal, to governance.

“There is no policy paralysis, only parliamentary paralysis. MPs go to the well of the House and disrupt Parliament. We can reach out to the opposition, but it must meet us halfway. While electing MPs please see their track record on disruptions,” he urged.

Both Shiv Sena’s Arvind Sawant and Bala Nandgaokar of MNS spoke in Hindi in a constituency that has a sizeable non-Marathi population. Sawant was the only candidate who canvassed for himself at the forum. His supporters chanted slogans in support of Sena-BJP. Sawant said a vote for Aam Aadmi Party candidate Meera Sanyal would be a waste and a vote for the Congress a bigger waste. He took digs at the Congress over graft. He praised the BMC, ruled by his party, for the roads it had laid in the city.

When Nandgaokar was asked about the party’s violent politics regarding Valentine’s Day and toll booths, he said that Valentine’s Day was Sena’s pet peeve, while MNS supported it. “There should be no moral policing on Valentine’s Day. Children should be allowed to enjoy themselves,” he said. As for toll booths, he said the party resorted to a bit of “tod-phod” when the government failed to listen to it.

“The 15th Lok Sabha met for 359 days; less than a year’s work in five years, during which parliament was stalled half the time. Only 160 bills were passed, the lowest since Independence. The only bill cleared in record time was to raise MPs’ salaries,” said Sanyal. She spoke of the decline in registered voters in Mumbai South over the years, largely due to unaffordable housing.