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Exclusive: Country needs a strong, constructive opposition to uphold democracy, says Milind Deora

Updated on: 13 April,2024 09:18 PM IST  |  Mumbai
Devashri Bhujbal |

Ahead of Lok Sabha elections, in an exclusive interview with Mid-Day, Rajya Sabha MP Milind Deora discusses what led him to quit the Congress and join Shiv Sena, his higher purpose, and his views on politics

Exclusive: Country needs a strong, constructive opposition to uphold democracy, says Milind Deora

Rajya Sabha MP Milind Deora. Pic/Mid-day

Rajya Sabha member Milind Deora, who earlier this year resigned from the Congress party and joined the Eknath Shinde-led Shiv Sena, emphasised the necessity of a credible and robust opposition to uphold democratic values in the country. 

"I have always hoped that if the Congress cannot come to power, it can at least aspire to provide India with a constructive opposition," Deora said.

In an exclusive interview with Mid-Day, Milind Deora delved into the purpose behind his entry into politics, his vision for India, and the reasons behind his decision to resign from the Congress party, which marked the most challenging choice of his career. Milind, the son of the late Congress leader Murli Deora, severed his 55-year association with the party.

In January this year, Deora, the former Lok Sabha MP from the Mumbai South constituency and former Mumbai Congress president announced his decision to join the Eknath Shinde-led Shiv Sena. Shortly thereafter, he was nominated by the party for the Rajya Sabha.

‘Congress - a weak opposition’

Speaking about the upcoming Lok Sabha elections, Deora said, "Regardless of which party assumes power, a robust and constructive opposition is imperative to hold the government accountable. It's a fundamental aspect of democracy, so the responsibility lies not only with the ruling party but also with the opposition. Strengthening democracy requires active participation from both sides."

"But with a weak and fragmented opposition, democratic values will not endure. Congress is one party that undoubtedly needs to reform itself to be capable of providing that opposition," Deora added.

The higher purpose

Milind Deora was elected to the Lok Sabha as one of its youngest members in 2004. He was re-elected in the 2009 elections but lost to the then-undivided Shiv Sena's Arvind Sawant in the 2014 polls. Deora also served as the Minister of Communications and Information Technology and the Minister of Shipping under the UPA government.

"I harbour no ill will towards the Congress, but the question revolves around a higher purpose. I remained steadfast with the party during its most challenging periods from 2014 to 2024. Politics isn't an easy vocation; it demands time. My allegiance and deeper connection ultimately rest with the people of Mumbai and India," Deora added.

Deora further elaborated, saying, “My higher purpose of serving the people has driven me for the last 20 years. Congress certainly faces challenges, as evidenced by its electoral prospects. If you lose sight of your purpose, it becomes suffocating. Eventually, you reach a glass ceiling and decide to move on.”

“We must move towards a system where there are strong checks and balances which help the country to move forward. India has not had a strong opposition for the last 10 years, but I am hoping that it will happen after June 2024,” he added.

‘Eknath Shinde, a man with vision and ability to execute’

Amidst a period when numerous Congress leaders are transitioning to the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), speculations arose that Milind Deora might also join the BJP. However, his unexpected decision to join the ruling regional party Shiv Sena caught many by surprise.

“Everybody has a different purpose for leaving and joining a particular party. Over the last two years, I observed that Chief Minister Eknath Shinde, despite hailing from a humble background, possesses a grand vision for Mumbai and Maharashtra,” Deora said.

Speaking more about CM Eknath Shinde, he said, “I was recently in Davos (the World Economic Forum) with him. I witnessed his work ethic firsthand. In just three months, I am personally witnessing a transformation in Mumbai, especially with infrastructure projects being executed at a record pace. Projects like the Mumbai Metro, Atal Setu, and Coastal Road are particularly refreshing to me.”

CM Eknath Shinde is a man with vision, mission and the ability to execute, Deora added. "He recognised the abilities I possess, which will complement and supplement Shiv Sena's objectives. I am working closely with CM Shinde, whether it's attracting more investments to Maharashtra or providing guidance to the government on infrastructure plans, affordable housing, and numerous other initiatives," Deora said.

“This is what I like to do, serve the public. As I said, I prefer constructive politics over name-calling,” Deora added.

Milind Deora recently took oath as Rajya Sabha MP and has been actively involved in the Lok Sabha election campaign. He was also part of the two-day Shiv Sena convention held in Kolhapur, Maharashtra, in February to prepare for the upcoming elections. 

(This is part one of the interview series of Milind Deora)

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