Dadar- The Samajwadi Party's group leader in the BMC, Rais Shaikh has education firmly on his mind.
Hailed as one of the more dedicated corporators in the city, the 42 year old Shaikh has worked in his Govandi constituency to ensure that the level of civic school education improved in the last five years. Work has commenced to convert Urdu schools into semi-English medium schools, model classrooms have been created and education festivals held. "Give the Muslims in the city quality primary education along with good health care, and you can win their confidence," Shaikh said during a Facebook Live interaction at the Mumbai Live offices on Monday.
Shaikh, who is currently busy in representing himself from South Mumbai for the Madanpura seat, said the secular vote would be strengthened and the communal vote would be marginalised if the Congress and the SP come together. The Deonar dumping ground in his constituency is a 'problem gifted by the BJP - Shiv Sena combine to the city', he alleged. The frequent fires at the grounds are an environmental consequence of neglect of the methane gas getting trapped in the grounds over the years, he said.
When quizzed about SP leader Abu Azmi's remarks on women's clothes, Shaikh chose to keep a safe distance from the issue, maintaining that 'short clothes are not the problem, men's outlook is'. He however defended Azmi saying that the leader's comments were quoted out of context.
Stressing that saffronisation of education is a reality in the city, Shaikh reiterated his stand on 'surya namaskars' being made mandatory in schools. "Students should be given a choice," he maintained.
He remarked that it would be difficult to beat the BJP unless secular forces united against it, but said that the BJP-Shiv Senahas no vision for Mumbai. The SP, he said, felt cheated by the Congress in the last polls, and is currently still awaiting word on an alliance here. "An anti BJP Sena alliance and faith that an alternative can work in the city is what will decide the poll outcome," he said.
About his own party's future, Shaikh said, "We will take time but we will emerge as a viable alternative in Mumbai."