Actress Nagma is geared up to contest election from Meertu as Congress candidate in the Lok Sabha election and says that people shouldn't looked down upon artists as their success rate is higher than the failure in the political arena.
"Bollywood actors are looked upon with added suspicion. But what about the actors who have done well in politics like Jayalalithaa, Karunanidhi, (late) Sunil Dutt, Chiranjeevi, Shatrughan Sinha and Jayaprada? I think actors who have delivered in politics outnumber the ones who haven't delivered," she said the 39-year-old who has over two weeks to campaign.
Excerpts from the interview:
Q: What prompted you to take the plunge into politics?
A: It isn't as if it's an overnight decision. I've been in it for 10 years. I became interested in politics in 2003. I feel all educated people in the country should be part of the process to bring about change. We keep complaining that nothing is happening.
Q: You've been inching into politics for a while now?
A: I joined Congress I in 2004. At that time I was busy with my film career and I couldn't campaign actively for the party because active politics requires a hundred percent of your energy. But I started working for the party in 2004. I also became the AICC (All India Congress Committee) member twice over. I put my claims for a new constituency from Mumbai in 2009. I thought it would be easier for me to work for my party from Mumbai. But that didn't happen.
Q: Why Meerut?
A: I was asked to contest election from Uttar Pradesh (UP), Bihar and Madhya Pradesh. From 2009, I started touring these areas extensively and started working at the grasroot level. In 2010, for the assembly elections, I personally visited over 150 constituencies in UP and Punjab. That gave me a lot more experience and insight. My party wanted me to contest the elections from UP only for quite a while.
Q: Could that be because of your connection with the Bhojpuri movie industry?
A: I don't think so. Bhojpuri is more popular in Eastern UP. I think it's more to do with my pan-India image. I've done films in nine languages. They (the Congress I leaders) thought I could carry this off because I've an all-India reach. Of course, it will be a tough contest in UP. And it would be a tough ground to fight on. Maybe they feel I'd give my opponent a good contest.
Q: What plans do you have for you chosen constituency Meerut? It is a very volatile area?
A: It is. There is a lot of scope for infrastructural development. Once there was a sports industry in Meerut and UP, even stronger than in Punjab. The education of the young and job opportunities are major problems in the area. We need to work on that. Then the connectivity between Meerut and Mumbai needs improvement. There are lots of problems plaguing the farmers's community. The government has allocated Rs.66,000 crore for them. But it hasn't reached from the government to the farmers. Issues regarding small-scale industries need immediate attention. The law and order situation and of course problems related to women and children need immediate attention.
Q: Are you ready for the battle ahead?
A: I need to plan. And I don't have enough time. My polling date is April 10. I believe in one thing: you can't learn how to swim unless you jump into the water. And I've always swum against the tide. I know it's not going to be easy. There are many issues that I need to raise in parliament. Law and order is a major issue in Meerut. A High Court bench needs to be established in Meerut. It is a long uphill struggle ahead.
Q: There is a deep sense of disappointment among people with politicians who offered a change?
A: There is. On top of that Bollywood actors are looked on with added suspicion. But what about the actors who have done well in politics like Jayalalithaa, Karunanidhi, (late) Sunil Dutt, Chiranjeevi, Shatrughan Sinha and Jayaprada? I think actors who have delivered in politics outnumber the ones who haven't delivered. I think individuals from the entertainment industry are better than lots of crass politicians roaming around. I think we should invite young and talented people, who want to make a difference, from all walks of life into politics. Rahul Gandhi is doing exactly that. He is inducting any young person who wants a change in our nation's politics.
Q: Are you done with your film career?
A: No, I can never say that. Films have given me everything. I am what I am today because of cinema.
Q: I wish you become another Jayalalitha?
A: (Laughs) It's too early to think that big. But I'll work as hard in politics as I did in movies.