Priya Dutt: Despite majority, why couldn’t NDA pass Women’s Quota Bill?

Surabhi Mumbai | Updated on April 11, 2019 Published on April 11, 2019

Congress leader Priya Dutt is contesting the Lok Sabha elections from Mumbai North Central. In an interview with BusinessLine, she said here decision to return to active politics was to fight for the Constitution and peace. She also said Bollywood has tried to raise issues on politics, and there is “fear” because of which people are not speaking up. Excerpts:

What made you reconsider your decision and return to active politics?

It’s the prevailing situation in the country. I had made up my mind not to stand in the elections about a year-and-a-half ago. I was focussed on my foundation work and we had even started working beyond Mumbai. Also, I was balancing my time beautifully with my children. But as we came closer to elections, people didn’t accept my decision. I also met Rahul Gandhi and saw how he was fighting for the nation. Even Priyanka joined in the fray and I saw that many people believe in the Constitution and in peace. My father always stood up for that. I think all like-minded people must fight for their rights. I am getting this opportunity through politics by contesting an election.

How are you positioning yourself this election? What are the key challenges in your constituency?

This is not a new constituency for me, though I lost the last election. I have represented it for two terms now. The primary issue is housing. We have 60-65 per cent slums, it is a diverse area with the middle-class on one side and slums on the other. There has to be a balance. There are issues of rehabilitation of people on airport land, Slum Rehabilitation Authority Projects, the metro in Bandra, which a lot of citizens are fighting against as we had asked for it to be underground. All these issues had been initiated by me. Nothing has been done. It was the NDA government both at the Centre and State.

The Women’s Reservation Bill is pending. The issue was also raised by Shaina NC that parties are not giving enough tickets to women. Your views?

The Congress initiated 33 per cent reservation for women in Parliament. We have tried to push it even without our allies’ support but it didn’t happen. It’s about men losing their seats, that’s why nobody is agreeing to it. Sooner or later, more women will enter Parliament and we will ensure that the Bill is passed. Why couldn’t the NDA pass it with full majority? The UPA, even with a coalition, we had to take our alliances together, not all our partners were willing for reservation.

There is a perception that Bollywood largely remains silent on politics. Your views?

There have been people like Naseeruddin Shah and Aamir Khan who have raised issues. In fact, when Aamir Khan spoke about it, some people asked him to go to Pakistan. Who are these people? I feel there is fear and that is the reason why many people are not opening their mouths.

Published on April 11, 2019
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