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Exclusive | Lok Sabha elections 2024: I plan to create jobs and infra, solve water issue, says Smita Wagh

Updated on: 09 May,2024 07:28 AM IST  |  Jalgaon
Rajendra B. Aklekar |

mid-day speaks with BJP’s Jalgaon candidate Smita Wagh about challenges she faces

Exclusive | Lok Sabha elections 2024: I plan to create jobs and infra, solve water issue, says Smita Wagh

BJP candidate and veteran leader Smita Wagh, 56, campaigned in her constituency in 42°C-plus heat. Pic/Ashish Raje

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Exclusive | Lok Sabha elections 2024: I plan to create jobs and infra, solve water issue, says Smita Wagh

Smita Uday Wagh, 56, has been a staunch BJP loyalist. She was the state BJP women’s wing president before being elected to the state Legislative Council in 2015. Wagh was the initial BJP candidate in the 2019 polls but had to withdraw at the last moment to allow unwilling Chalisgaon MLA Unmesh Patil to contest as per party directives, making her upset. She has been committed right from the days of Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad and has been active in politics since her student days along with her husband Uday. She is back as a candidate and this time upsetting outgoing MP Unmesh Patil, who has resigned in a huff throwing a challenge for Wagh. mid-day caught up with her for an interview on her campaign trail while walking up in 42°C-plus heat in the interior village of Adgaon in Jalgaon district. 

Excerpts from the interview 

The challenge is tough this time due to changing political equations in the state and the volatile situation locally. What do you say?
I only know that we have to focus on development. I have been a local here all my life and know the issues and concerns here. I have been working here with the people and my work speaks more than the political equations.

Several issues in the Jalgaon constituency have remained unaddressed…
Yes. Several projects are in various stages of completion. I will strive to complete all the projects and take them to their logical conclusions so they benefit the common man.

Outgoing BJP MP Unmesh Patil has quit the party and joined the Opposition. You have no support of his followers and no Shiv Sena.
The entire BJP machinery and senior local leaders and cadre are with me. I am a familiar face here and know them and their issues. Our government has been doing several projects which have directly helped citizens.

Any examples?
The support of Rs 6,000 in three instalments directly goes to beneficiary farmers. Development of infrastructure like wide and good quality roads, upgradation of railways and the airport at Jalgaon… all are being developed slowly and steadily.

Yet, there are several issues pertaining to agriculture and unemployment leading to migration…
Yes. Unemployment is a key issue. It is because of joblessness that the local youth have been migrating. We need to get industries here and create jobs and they will come only when there are good roads and infra, which is now happening. The agriculture issues too are being looked after as 
several projects are in the pipeline.

What about water and irrigation?
Water is the key issue here. A long-pending project called the Seven Barrages Project over the Girna River is in its final stages of work. This project will immensely benefit the entire district.

Former minister and leader Eknath Khasde is now back in the BJP. Are you looking for his support? Also, what is your advice to opponent Unmesh Patil?
I only know about my work in the constituency. I will continue to focus on my work and people instead of commenting on other leaders.

SWOT analysis

Has a good network and is a local face Has been working with women’s self-help groups and is popular
Has support of the BJP machinery and big leaders like Girish Mahajan

No national experience and may face challenges while dealing with parliament and the massive bureaucracy

Being a local, she has a finger on the pulse of the people and knows exactly what people want and what can be done at a macro level to get the issues solved

Outgoing MP Unmesh Patil has quit the party in a huff and is now in the Opposition; the cadre that once supported her is now in Opposition. She will also have to face the Shiv Sena (UBT) with whose support the BJP always won the seat

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