‘Toilets Still an Issue, What Swachh Bharat,’ Asks Priya Dutt
From upmarket Bandra to the slums of Kurla – Mumbai’s North Central constituency is as diverse as it gets. This is a fact that Congress leader Priya Dutt, who is once again contesting from the seat, is clear about as she embarks on her campaign trail. Dutt has made issues like redevelopment, rehabilitation and open spaces her priority.
“When you look at the slum area, the biggest need is housing, redevelopment and rehabilitation. Because there are slums even on water pipelines and court orders say that they have to be removed. All that is happening, but we also have to look at rehabilitating these people. When you look at the other side where the buildings are, the needs are very different. The needs are about the hawkers freeing your footpaths, also looking at potholes and really preserving the open spaces.”Priya Dutt, Congress Leader
Despite stating earlier, that she would not be contesting the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, Priya Dutt changed her mind once she was offered a seat.
“What changed my mind is that people like me, and people who are like-minded, who really believe in the fabric of our nation, believe in our democracy, believe in a united India – I think people like us had to come down and do something to give back to the country. This was my way – I was offered a seat, I took it because this was my way of fighting back.”Priya Dutt, Congress Leader
When asked if there has been any change in the strategy adopted by Mumbai Congress owing to a change in the party leadership recently, Priya Dutt says, “What we realise is that we really need to start from the bottom, that’s where you see that our campaigning strategy has also changed. So, there is more interaction with the people, there are more door-to-door campaigns with the people. So, we are really reaching out on-ground to the voters.”
Dutt once again finds herself facing off against rival Poonam Maharajan from BJP, who defeated her in the 2014 elections, a result she is confident won’t repeat itself.
“Last time was a Modi wave, and people were voting for Modi. They were not really looking at a candidate that time. This time what happens is people have seen in these five years nothing has happened. Many promises made, lot of hype to everything but nothing has happened on the ground level.”Priya Dutt, Congress Leader
Questioning the result of the much hyped up Swachh Bharat Abhiyan, Priya Dutt said that the least results have been seen in her constituency. “60% of our constituency is slums, and when you go into those areas you will see that the biggest issue again is toilets. People are coming and saying that they don’t have toilets or that there are 3,000 people but only 2 toilets, and I don’t see anything happening on the ground,” she said.
Mumbai will be voting in the fourth phase of the election on 29 April.