'Father told me to meet people, grassroot workers'

A dancer and activist, President Pranab Mukherjee’s daughter Sharmistha Mukherjee is fighting the upcoming elections from the Greater Kailash constituency.

She elaborates on her plans for a better constituency in an interview with Ritwika Mitra

Q. Greater Kailash constituency has attracted attention with you being fielded as the Congress candidate. Do you think it will be a triangular contest?

A. The contest is between the Congress and the BJP in Greater Kailash constituency. I have met people in small groups in the last three months. From the feedback that I have received, people have lost faith in the AAP. The question that I have been asked is how I would counter the Modi-wave.

Q. So how do you think you will counter the “Modi-wave”?

A. I tell people the Prime Minister cannot come here and solve the local problems. You need a local representative. For an election like this, I believe people generally look at the candidates, their intentions and capacities rather than their political affiliations.

Q. How seriously are you taking BJP candidate Rakesh Gullaiya?

A. I am taking my job very seriously and the BJP candidate seriously too.

Q. You mentioned that votes would be divided between the Congress and the BJP. But voters in the area are happy with AAP candidate Saurabh Bhardwaj and said he has delivered well in the last term. What do you think of it as a resident of the constituency?

A. In my knowledge, he has not deliverered much at all. Recently, I saw lots of posters mentioning the presence of CCTV cameras. Half of these were installed by the RWAs (Resident Welfare Associations). After I probed a little, I realised people have no idea if the CCTV cameras are being monitored. People said as a transport minister earlier, he (Bhardwaj) had not even introduced a single bus.

Q. A dancer and activist... and now you enter politics actively. Do you think politics will be a baggage for you?

A. Of course not. I entered politics after a lot of deliberation. 

Q. Were you interested in politics as a child?

A. Even two years back, I used to think I would never join politics. But I think born into a political family, it does influence you.

Q. What happens to your dancing career now?

A. (Laughs) I think that will take a backseat for at least sometime now. That will be a regret.
Q. What is your agenda for development in your constituency?

A. It is based on suraksha, sugam and sanskriti. Security for women and elderly is on the priority. If elected, I want to list out the projects I will be handling for the next six months and create a website which will be a single-window for residents of the area to access information on civic issues. 

Q. What are the sanskriti-related plans?

A. I want to put Greater Kailash on cultural map of the city. I want to hold theme festivals in the parks, including art festivals. I also want to revive markets in the constituency and make them culturally active so that the youths can hang out.

Q. CR park has a sizeable Bengali population. And do you think Bengalis will find a voice through you?

A. Somebody was telling me a Bengali candidate was fielded as an MLA candidate many years back, but I would like to be the voice of everybody in a cosmopolitan city like Delhi.

Q. Lastly, has your dad given you any tip?

A. I actually asked him when I formally joined the party, “What am I supposed to do?” (Laughs) He did not say much, said ‘go meet people and the grassroot-level workers’.

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