: His favourite sports are wrestling and kabaddi, which is why he may have learnt to floor his opponents with surprise even in politics. Meet
69-year-old sitting Congress MP Eknath Gaikwad, who surprised everyone in the 2004 Lok Sabha polls by defeating Shiv Sena veteran and former LS speaker Manohar Joshi.
“I do not see a tough fight in my constituency this time as Joshi has decided not to contest and I am confident of defeating Suresh Gambhir of the Sena,” says a confident Gaikwad who has also been a three-time MLA and served as minister of state for portfolios like housing, labour, social welfare, women and child welfare, public health and medical education.
“I have done a lot of work in my constituency and this will help me retain the seat,” he says, pointing to the Dharavi redevelopment scheme, which has been one of his key projects. “I am changing the face of Dharavi and creating an entire township with good stormwater drains, sewerage, roads, gardens, schools and hospitals. In fact, when I campaign in Trombay and Deonar, I am asked by slumdwellers there to implement the Dharavi model in their areas,” he claims.
Gaikwad, who loves watching Marathi theatre, is busy meeting voters these days. “My office is open from 7 am and I look into every problem till late in the night,” says Gaikwad, who has earned the reputation of being a grassroots worker.
He is proud to be the only Marathi candidate of the Congress party in Mumbai. “Being a Dalit, I will get votes from the community en masse. And it will not be the Sena or MNS, but myself who will eat into the Marathi vote,” he says.
Gaikwad has a long list of plans for the newly carved out Mumbai South-Central constituency. “I am initiating the process of renovating stations on the Harbour Line and even making the Lokmanya Tilak Terminus hi-tech and world class. I will introduce 12-coach suburban trains on the Harbour Line and work for a super-speciality hospital,” he says.
Gaikwad adds that he is satisfied with the steps taken by the Congress-led governments in Delhi and Mumbai to ensure security in Mumbai post 26/11.