I felt the need to give something back to make a difference: Priya Dutt on 'Issue Kya Hai'

In an exclusive interaction with Mumbai Live, Indian National Congress (INC) candidate, Priya Dutt opens up about her manifesto and what she intends to do if she comes to power.

  • I felt the need to give something back to make a difference: Priya Dutt on 'Issue Kya Hai'
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Priya Dutt is a renowned name from the political circle. She is fielding from Mumbai North Central for Indian National Congress, against BJP's Poonam Mahajan. In an exclusive interaction with Mumbai Live, Priya Dutt shares her views on Lok Sabha Elections 2019, her political agenda, and gives us an understanding of what she wants to do for the city and the people of Mumbai.

We started our conversation, by asking our favourite question, 'Issue Kya Hai?' To which Priya Dutt has an answer already. She said, "There are so many issues. So you tell me where to begin? There are several issues in this highly diverse constituency  Bandra West & Vile Parle on one side, both of them being very elite (class-wise) areas. On the other hand, there are areas like Bandra East, Kurla, Chandivali which consist of slums. Now 60 per cent of my constituency is made up of the slums. So I think we should talk about them first. I think the most basic yet the foremost issue is housing."

Earlier Priya Dutt had mentioned that she would not be contesting the Lok Sabha polls, but then she filed nomination. Understanding what made her take this decision, she said, "It wasn’t a flip-flop. I was very clear that I wasn’t going to contest and I did not want to be in electoral politics. I wanted to take a break from it. But I felt the need to give something back to make a difference. Besides, I think there was also a lot of pressure from my family (chuckles)." 

Reports also stated that Congress Chief Rahul Gandhi met and convinced Priya Dutt for the elections. Clarifying the same, she answered, "He didn’t convince me. But I went to meet him to tell that I am not going to contest. So he very nicely told me, that we are all fighting, not for ourselves, we are fighting a larger cause."

Priya Dutt is one of the few candidates who has a manifesto for herself, which has the lines every child at school also says it repeatedly, over those years. It reads 'India is my country and all Indians are my brothers and sisters. To my country & my people, I pledge my devotion. In their well-being and prosperity alone, lies my happiness.' On being questioned about the same, she firmly answered, "You see, this is really important, as everything you start, you start from Class I. We have quite deliberately done that because this is the first pledge that the children read. So, this should be ingrained in our heads."

We then focused on the primary concerns the city faces today - local issues & policies that she confirmed that she would support. Authorities have been working on the environment and the policies, where a lot is being focused on the issues Mithi river faces. It all began in 2005 when she mentioned that something would be done to address these concerns, but alas, nothing happened. Correcting the same, by throwing more light to the subject, she quickly answered, "You know, Mithi river has to be worked on. I agree there was not too much work we’ve done. Retaining walls were built during the time as well as the cleaning of Mithi river was also done. You can see that some parts of the river are a lot cleaner now. But yet, there are some parts, where the slums are, they are in a real mess. So yes, that work has to be looked into. And we have to focus on that."

Bandra has many open spaces & beaches along with a Promenade. Mumbai Police has been keeping an eye on such places, asking people not to use the same to spend their time. While conversing about such societal and endemic concerns the city faces, and her thought on the same as a representative of the people, Priya Dutt said, "You know, this I have seen happen in the past five years. Everybody thinks they are the moral police and this is a terrible thing to go about it. A policeman is not here to tell a couple to get up. Instead, he should be having more to do. But this moral policing about what women should wear, how they should dress, who should they meet, whether they should make out in the public or not. I think they (the moral police) should have a limit to it. When I see people living in a 10x10 room, there’s no privacy at all and the only moments they do get together is maybe sitting on the beach or sitting at the promenade. We need to look at it from a broader perspective."

This led us to the next interesting topic - Social Living. Despite the awareness of Marijuana's benefits in certain medical ailments, it is still considered illegal in India. Speaking on behalf of many, we asked her if it should be permitted for recreational consumption too, where she said, "We’re not ready for it yet. Although we are ready for its medical use. One may be ready for it, but society at a large is not ready. Medical marijuana, on the other hand, is something we need. I work a lot with cancer patients and I understand how important it is. You’re looking at pain management and a lot of other aspects."

Priya Dutt currently resides in Bandra, which is popular not only among the citizens, but also tourists who visit the city. It is a place where every person in Mumbaikar visits, either to party, celebrate, or just have a good time. But the locality is developed among the narrow lanes and over the last few years, the residents of Bandra have been complaining about the noise. On one hand, there are such concerns to be addressed, but on the other, young leaders like Aditya Thackeray have proposed of 24/7 zone in Mumbai. On being asked if her thoughts match and if she would you endorse such a move, Priya Dutt said, "I would because there is a young population here and we cannot restrict the youngsters by saying, ‘It’s 10:00 o’clock. Sorry, don’t go out of the house.’ So you certainly need that kind of an outlet where you have the restaurant, bars. I agree that there should be specific zones where they can party without restrictions. Also, when you are in the locality where residents live, they are obviously going to complain. So those things will happen and you can neither blame them nor the person who’s partying. You have to look at both sides and their reasons. I think the BKC is one of the places where we can build these party zones. The Bandra-Kurla Complex has less residential complexes and majorly offices that shut down after 6:00 pm. Even the areas in Bandra West, they have Bar Streets, specific places where you can go and party all night if you like."

Our conversation with Priya Dutt, on the political front, ended on this note. She is undoubtedly one of the strongest candidates in the city, and with her aim to make Mumbai a better place (with a bit agenda), it will now be interesting to see who the citizens vote from their constituency. 

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