Priya Dutt was elected for the first time in the 14th Lok Sabha election from the Mumbai North West constituency in November 2005 on a Congress ticket. She won another term in 2009 too, but in 2014, she lost to Poonam Mahajan of the BJP by a margin of 1.86 lakh votes.
Priya Dutt talks about contesting against BJP’s Poonam Mahajan, striking a balance between her personal and professional life and learning from brother Sanjay Dutt and father Sunil Dutt, who always supported her.
This time, however, Priya Dutt seems confident about giving Poonam Mahajan a tough fight. She said, “I don’t want to compare the last elections to this one. People were blinded by the Modi wave. However, now, the truth has been exposed. Mr Modi’s BJP had promised development, employment, and a robust economy. They promised to bring back the black money and to credit Rs 15 lakhs into every citizen’s bank account. None of it really happened.”
Elaborating on her agenda, Priya explained, “My constituency is very diverse, and 60 per cent of it comprises slums. Primarily, the housing needs of all the sections need to be met. Also, the rehabilitation of the people on the central government land has not been addressed yet, so that’s on my list of priorities.”
Priya is extremely passionate about working towards women empowerment. “It was Congress that initiated the proposal to reserve 33 per cent seats in the Parliament for women. Unfortunately, it has not happened yet. Additionally, as per the Nayana scheme, Rs 72,000 will be deposited to every woman’s account. We hope to empower every woman in the country, homemakers and professionals.”
On father Sunil Dutt and brother Sanjay
Priya’s father, Sunil Dutt, always aspired to provide housing to the poor. “My father always empathised with the poor living conditions of slum dwellers. In fact, he was the one who initiated development to resolve their concerns. Unfortunately, the development eventually turned into a mess. I hope to be able to make it happen,” explained Priya Dutt, who turns sentimental about bringing her father’s dream to fruition.
And, would her brother be campaigning for her?
“I don’t want my brother to hang around me when I am campaigning, I don’t think that is right. He has his own work to do and I respect that. Sanju has also said, ‘whenever Priya wants me there for her, I will be there by her side.’ He will be a part of the campaign but I don't want him to be here from day one,” says Priya.
When asked what are the things that she has learned from her brother, Priya says it is remaining strong throughout.
“I love his strength. I have great admiration for him because he has gone through hell in his life, he’s gone through the craziest ups and downs in his life and yet he has come out strong every time. I have learned a lot from him, his resilience and his will to survive… all this gives me oodles of strength and learnings,” says Priya who gets emotional.
Striking a balance
Priya is also a caring mother who strives to balance her personal life with her professional life.
“Striking a balance is more difficult now than ever, for now, my children are in their teens and need me the most. My father, despite his duty towards the constituency, always put family first and at the same time, served the people of his constituency with just as much dedication.”
What happens if she wins the elections?
“If I win, I will single-mindedly focus on my agenda towards the people. I will certainly have to strike a balance between my personal and professional life, and I’m sure that I will. I cannot say this enough but it is because of the support that I receive from my husband through thick and thin that I have been able to keep the balance, and I count on him to support me in the future.”