Registering the narrowest victory margin in the country, Shiv Sena MP from Mumbai North West Ravindra Waikar had on Tuesday won his Lok Sabha seat by 48 votes following a recount. In a conversation with The Indian Express, he talks about the nail biting vote count, the drama that unfolded and his plans for his constituency. Excerpts:

What exactly happened at the vote counting station? At first, it seems you were declared defeated against your opponent candidate Amol Kirtikar. Could you explain the situation?

Even before the vote counting could be completed, my opponent’s name was prematurely disclosed as the winner. This prompted me to visit the vote counting station at NESCO (grounds in Goreaon), which I wouldn’t have done otherwise. I could not understand the urgency to burst firecrackers and create a celebratory atmosphere while the vote counting was still underway. I arrived at NESCO around 5.45pm to assess the situation. I was puzzled over how the winner’s name could have been announced when the vote counting after 20 rounds was yet to be completed. I did not request a recount since the counting was still in progress.

Your opponent Amol Kirtikar from Shiv Sena (UBT) also managed to get significant votes. What are your thoughts on this?

The primary reason for his significant vote share is that one particular community gave him massive support. I don’t understand why this community voted for him and not for me, despite my efforts and work as their former MLA.

You managed to win the seat by only 48 votes. It was a very narrow victory. How do you feel about that?

Yes, 48 ​​votes (laughs). It reminds me of how Vajpayee’s government lost by just one vote in the 1998 elections. In politics, anything can happen and every vote counts. Winning by 48 votes is still significant given the situation.

As you now lead this constituency as an MP, what are the key issues you will focus on first?

There is a historic monument known as Mahakali Caves here in this constituency. These caves are underground, and according to archaeological rules, no construction activity is allowed within 300 meters to avoid visual obstructions. Since the caves are underground, this restriction is not applicable. I will advocate for separate guidelines and directives for such cases.

Festive offer

Secondly, regarding the airport funnel zone, I believe two more runways need to be constructed urgently. The number of plane go-arounds has increased dramatically, causing significant runway traffic for landings and take offs.

Given that Mumbai airport handles a high volume of international and domestic flights, constructing additional runways is essential. This will also involve redeveloping surrounding slum pockets, which I will prioritize.

There is also a long-pending issue regarding the living conditions of the fishermen community. Similar to farmers, fishermen need to store their catches where they live. I will push for specific guidelines for the construction of structures in this regard for fishermen in Koliwada.

I will represent all these issues staunchly in the Lok Sabha and work towards finding solutions. Unlike previous MPs who did not manage to present these concerns, I will ensure they are addressed.

What do you have to say about the mandate that Uddhav Thackeray’s Shiv Sena received? Do you regret quitting Thackeray’s Sena after seeing the state election results?

Regret over what? No. I wish them good luck for their performance in the Lok Sabha elections. My decision to switch parties was part of destiny, and it has already happened. I do not wish to discuss this subject further.

In a press conference, Uddhav Thackeray mentioned that his party might go to court to challenge the verdict of the Lok Sabha seat that you won. What are your thoughts on this?

They can go to court. I have no objection to it.

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