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.