By Anando Bhakto, Mumbai, April 17 IANS | 5 months ago

Congress leader Priya Dutt has accused the BJP of polarsing the people of the country to win the general elections.


"Polarisation has always been the BJP's tool to swing votes in its favour. This time it is more high-pitched," Dutt, the incumbent MP from Mumbai North Central and from where she is re-contesting, told IANS in an interview.

She said the Congress will not counter the BJP's tactics by employing similar means.

"Our ideology remains the same. We will take the country together with our focus on inclusive growth and secularism," she reassured.

Asked if she feared a spate of financial scandals might mar the Congress's electoral fortunes, as is widely expected, Dutt claimed that corruption is not an issue in this election as there is a general acknowledgment that the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) is sincerely trying to "clean up the system".

"People are aware it is the Congress which started the anti-corruption drive by bringing in strong acts such as the RTI and Lokpal," Dutt, who is the daughter of the late Sunil Dutt, a veteran actor and Congress leader, said. Her mother was yesteryear diva Nargis.

"We are the only government which took action against its ministers when they were caught in a controversy," added Dutt, the sister of Bollywood star actor Sanjay Dutt. Her sister is Namrata Dutt.

She attributed to "media propaganda" the perceived wave for BJP prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi and asserted that the ground situation favoured a third term for the UPA.

"Unfortunately, the media is talking about only one person. But what we did in parliament for 10 years demonstrates our commitment to inclusive growth," Dutt said.

"We lifted 15 crore (150 million) people from the poverty line, and thanks to the UPA's policies, the size of the middle-class is ever expanding."

Dutt firmly believes the work done by the UPA will insulate it against accusations levelled by the BJP, in particular Modi, who has been blaming the Congress for the country's plight.

She said such continued accusations by the BJP would convince voters that it had "no vision for the country".

"I feel the BJP's campaign is all about accusations, whereas people would like to see a vision. The BJP has not shown any vision for the country," Dutt retorted.

Dutt's opponents are the BJP's Poonam Mahajan, the daughter of late party leader Pramod Mahajan; the Samajwadi Party's Farhan Azmi, the son of party leader Abu Azmi and AAP's Phiroze Palkhivala, the son of eminent jurist Nani Palkhivala.

In an apparent bid to wean away young voters from Modi's promise of growth and development, Dutt appealed to them to "vote sensibly" and look back at history to discover which party had pioneered India's growth.

"The young voters are living in the age of technology. But this growth has been made possible by the policies of the Congress. Whether it was the Green Revolution, bank nationalisation or liberalisation, the Congress has always had a vision for India," Dutt said.

Dutt dismissed the AAP factor in Mumbai as a "presumption" and said the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) lacked felicity to govern.

Dutt appeared confident she would retain her seat despite the fact that the BJP candidate was sure to reap in undivided "saffron votes" in the absence of any candidate from the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS).

"I think we are under-evaluating the voters. People will assess the work I have done for my constituency. I am confident I will win," Dutt said.

Priya Dutt had won from her father's constituency in a 2005 byelection caused by his death. She vacated the seat in 2009 for Congress leader Gurudas Kamat and shifted to her present
constituency.

"I don't think Muslims will vote for the SP because their candidate is a Muslim. My father was not a Muslim but he got life-long support from the minorities," Dutt said.

She said if re-elected, she would focus on re-developing slums, which constitute over 60 percent of her constituency.

Providing a good housing policy for the middle and upper-middle classes also figures in her agenda.

(Anando Bhakto can be contacted atanando.b@ians.in)

(Posted on 17-04-2014)


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