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Milind Deora, 37, is serving his second term as the Congress Lok Sabha MP from Mumbai South. He is also Minister of State for the ministries of Shipping and Information Technology & Communications. Deora, son of industrialist and Congress veteran Murli Deora, is one of the youngest members of the Lok Sabha. Among his core interests have been governmental transparency and accountability, urban infrastructure and youth. He is contesting the Lok Sabha elections from Mumbai South, for the Congress, again this year.

Excerpts from an interview

I’m proud to announce that Maharashtra government is the first state in the country which has a housing regulator and that will protect homeowners and homebuyers, I believe that Mumbai and Maharashtra shouldn’t be the only state that has that. I think it should be a pan-India housing regulator. There is a bill pending before the Parliament called the Real Estate Regulation and Development Bill and that is a bill, which I hope that the next government will pass after June.

India as a country, unlike Europe, uses just about 1% of its waterways for transportation. Whereas countries in Europe use almost 30 or 40 or 50% of their waterways for transportation of cargo, passengers. And for a city like Mumbai allowing people to commute by waterways, is a project which I am going to work with the State government on.

As Minister of State in the Ministry of Communications and IT, we’ve set very, very effective regulatory safeguards and standards and limits. And today, India is one of the few countries in the world, which has very stringent radiation limits for both mobile towers and for handsets. And this was completely against the industry lobby.

I firmly believe in a trans harbour sea-link, which will connect the city to Navi Mumbai. And I think it’s important for many reasons. It’s important from an affordable housing point of view. It’ll do away with the slum problem that we have in our city. It will allow more people to have access to affordable housing. It’ll ease a lot of transportation woes. It will connect Mumbai, Pune, the entire industrial corridor.

We have been working an an estate policy with Mumbai Port Trust and once that policy is ready, I think it’s going to provide lot of relief to people living around those areas. It’s going to allow for land to be developed in a very sustainable, holistic manner. It’s going to be a good for the Port Trust, it’s going to be good for the city and it’s going to be good for the citizens.

While I believe laws are important and Lokpal is an important legislation, I am not sure if more government or more bureaucrats is the answer to reduce corruption. I am not sure if having a new set of bureaucrats who are going to oversee another set of bureaucrats who are already overseeing another set of bureaucrats is going to reduce corruption. I think we, instead of adding layers, need to do away with layers. We need to make governments smaller and smarter and I fundamentally believe in the power of e-governance. I think using technology in government to do away with the certain interfaces between the citizen and government, that’s the way we are going to reduce corruption.

I don’t think we communicated effectively enough that we brought RTI to improve transparency and enabled millions and millions of people to have access to mobile phones and the Internet. I don’t think we countered a lot of the criticism against us, allegations against the party and the government, many of which were grossly exaggerated or untrue. In politics, communication plays a very important role. You can’t just sit back and say I’m working behind the scenes and people will get to know what I am doing.

I am able to criticize people in my party if I feel they’re doing wrong and I don’t get reprimanded. I don’t see that in other parties.

We’re the first party in the country where party cadre will decide who should be their candidate in particular areas. Has it worked as a pilot? To a good degree, yes. But is it the future of the Congress party? I believe so.

There’s a generational change happening in our party. We want it to be done smoothly, we want it to be done where we have a mix of experience and youth. We want the enthusiasm that youth brings to the table. But we also want the wisdom and the grey hairs that age and experience bring to the table.

Parties  some days do well, some days don’t do well. But ultimately it’s good candidates that matter.

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