Would like to see Rahul Gandhi as PM: Jaya Prada

Would like to see Rahul Gandhi as PM: Jaya Prada

"It is good to see Rahul Gandhi active in politics; he is working hard to understand the ground realities and problems of people; and we (the people of India) would like to see him as the country's prime minister," Jaya Prada told reporters. Asked if that was the view of her party as well, she said: "It is not about my view or the party view, good work has to be recognised and everyone is seeing his (Rahul Gandhi's) efforts". She is currently in Maharashtra campaigning for the upcoming state assembly polls there.

Jaya Prada, 47, who first entered parliament as a Rajya Sabha MP in 1996 at the age of 34, is not as impressed with the work of the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government at the centre. "The UPA government talks more and works less. Most of its schemes look impressive on paper while they are not implemented properly at the grassroots level even in Congress-ruled states," Jaya Prada said. She herself is a second-time MP from  the Rampur constituency in Uttar Pradesh, a state that forms the base of the Samajwadi Party but where it did not fare well in the April-May general election.

It was during the general election that ties between her party and the Congress nosedived. The number of Samajwadi Party MPs from the state went down to 22 from a tally of 28. But she said: "We have not fared badly, we have an impressive number of MPs in the state and in future we will work hard and bounce back with a majority in the 2012 assembly elections".

When asked about the Congress tally going up to 21 in Uttar Pradesh in 2009 compared to just nine in 2004, Jaya Prada said the public was angry with the performance of the Mayawati government and also fed up with the sectarian agenda of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). Hence they voted for the Congress, she said. She said "Now, people are realising that the Congress is not in a condition to form a government in the state and they will vote for Samajwadi Party in future".

The Rampur seat once used to be a Congress stronghold in the state. She was recently reported to have been frightened to tears while touring her constituency during floods. She said: "I was touring my constituency to know the problems of the people and their sufferings made be sad. I had been working for them, but a lot has to be done." Asked about the controversy during the Lok Sabha elections when former Samajwadi Party leader Azam Khan made unsavoury allegations against her, she said: "Everyone from the party supported me except him.

"I was hurt by what all happened, but I don't carry any bitterness against him. I have always considered him my brother." Born in Rajahmundry in Andhra Pradesh, Jaya Prada entered politics in 1994 after joining the Telugu Desam Party (TDP) at the invitation of N.T. Rama Rao. But now she is firmly entrenched in the Samajwadi Party and is satisfied with her second innings as Lok Sabha MP. "I feel great, this is the verdict of the people for a person who has worked for them. Also, it is the recognition of the work of a woman politician who has performed against all odds," she said.