Surekha Tai, Please tell me about yourself?
Namaskar Manoj, I am Mrs. Surekha Suresh Chavan, Born and brought up in Powai. I come from a lower class family who has pushed our way to middle class, I have seen Powai gradually change to be what it is today, circumstances at that time were different, Powai (Tirandaz Gaothan) was different, People were different, importance of education was not well preached nor well received and people expected their children to help them with daily chores and work. Powai was a jungle and Adivasis were the locals, Alligators and leopards used to roam on the small road beside the lake (incidentally they still do) but there were no streets forget about lights. Opportunities were scarce and people had to go to Ghatkopar for basic health care facilities, women faced a lot of hardships.
What drove you towards social work?
I come from a culture of village wherein each person is personally and socially responsible for his neighbors, area, locality and the entire village. Happier occasions are celebrated by the entire village.Also any sad occasion, demise in the community is mourned by the entire village. Powai is a village first and foremost, though people have forgotten that or not have been exposed to that culture, that value is still prevalent in the by-lanes of Powai.
What started off as small help to neighbors, less fortunate, the politically and socially unreachable class of people has now blossomed into full fledge Social work. I realized I am natural in that respect and if truth be told the feeling of self content and happiness that I derive from these activities is what drives me.
Have you ever been thanked by old people whom you have taken to rajawadi for cataract surgeries? Or by ladies you have helped with deliveries and seeing those kids grow up in front of you?
Seeing families settle down after your interventions which were dispersed due to evil practices like dowry or protecting women against domestic violence, taking an innocent persons side against police atrocities. The feeling of Gratitude extended towards you by these people is priceless; you can’t buy that feeling with tons of money.
Tai, what people would like to know is your knowledge of the ward and the problems pestering the residents of the ward?
To understand the problems of the land you should know the land, its history, its people. What was Powai earlier? What is it today? How did it grow? As I Said earlier Powai was a village with the above stated problems.
Times changed with the expansion of Mumbai, setting up of IIT, Hiranandani Group and locality being set up but it came with its own set of problems. Inorganic growth led to chaos on the streets, requirement of labor led to spur in dwellings for the labor class (I won’t call them slums, they are people’s homes) which were not organized. When people converge there comes a problem of water and roads.
Areas like Hiranandani have different sets of problems, hawkers, dimly lit areas, old market congestion, resident traffic mixed with office traffic.
Solutions you will propose?
First of all I promise to stick by my manifesto. Please understand I am not a seasoned politician, in fact I am not a politician. I have always been driven by sense of justice, right or wrong?
For people with labor class dwellings there is still issue related to water, approach roads, lighting, and security and where there is water there is problem related to water pressure. Most of the problems can be solved through Corporator funds and through proper follow-ups with corporation.
For people in Hiranandani, charting a road to segregate Office and resident traffic which can be done with the help of RTO. Installation of CCTV cameras at junctions. Traffic camera related e-challan at one ways to deter miscreants, Regularization of old market shop timings etc will definitely solve more than 50% of the residents problems.
Your take on your competitors?
I know most of my competitors since I have been in the field for long. Anjali Tai and Jaya Didi are established supported by National Parties, Anjali Tai in fact has been an ex-corporator. MNS candidate is my neighbor from our village and I have seen her grown up and know her to be socially oriented. I had never heard the name of Shiv-Sena’s candidate in all my years of social work, as a matter of fact she joined shiv-sena after the ward was declared as a ladies OBC reserved, I wouldn’t want to comment on how she got the ticket.
Weren’t you associated with Shiv-Sena earlier?
Yes for 25 years. I was an office bearer (Mahila-Shakhapramukh) leading their women’s wing of the ward for the last 10 Years. I have been to their rallies, demonstrations, had been hospitalized for 2 weeks after a police lathi charge done during protests against MHADA for providing homes to project affected persons.
How do you feel about your exit?
I was there as they provided me a platform to do social work which I will continue to do irrespective of being backed by any party irrespective of winning or losing.
Any message for the electorate?
I believe people deserve the government they elect so please come out and vote. Your vote is invaluable. It makes a difference and no one can take you for granted.