Apr 1,2014 (Nidhi): Actor-turned politician Jaya Prada is working hard for a third consecutive term. This time in the fray as a Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) candidate from Bijnor, the Rampur MP tells about her strategy, mentor Amar Singh and the ‘outsider’ tag. Excerpts:
Q. How did you decide to get into politics?
When people came to know I’m joining politics, they were really shocked, because I’m such an introvert by nature. I respected NTR a lot; his policies were close to the way I think. And what I like about Mr. Naidu is that he concentrates on the rural women, which is something I really wanted. And he discusses everything, so that we all feel he gives equal importance to our opinions. There are no solo decisions.
Q.People of Rampur elected you twice, but you shifted to Bijnor?
My heart says I should stay in Rampur, but the RLD doesn’t have a seat arrangement with the Congress in Rampur, so I have to contest from Bijnor.
Q.Initially, you wanted to join the Congress. What happened?
I called on Soniaji twice and she was incredibly affectionate. (But) I wanted to join any party with Amar Singh ji, as he is my political mentor.
Q.Do you mean the Congress was not ready to accept Amar Singh?
I believed we should join together. At present, we are not away from the Congress. Its workers are supporting my campaign.
Your rivals say you were looking for an escape route from Rampur to avoid Azam Khan. Azam is not a big factor for me. After Muzaffarnagar riots, his graph has gone down.
Q. Muzaffarnagar riots have disrupted the RLD’s winning combination of Jat and Muslims. What is your strategy to revive it?
I have worked for Muslim education and women’s welfare. Muslims are definitely against the BJP. (And) my rivals in SP and BSP don’t have a good reputation. Being the only woman candidate (here), I am getting overwhelming support from women voters. Jat reservation is another plus.
Q. People chase you, admire you, hang up your pin-ups on their wall. Have you ever been a fan of anyone?
The only autograph I’ve ever taken in my life has been Mother Theresas. She is my inspiration. She’s Great
Q.Is being an outsider an issue?
Meira Kumar and Mayawati won from here but didn’t return after their victory. People tagged me also as an outsider. But I continued visiting Rampur, sharing in the people’s grief and happiness. I don’t feel like an outsider.
Who is your nearest rival?
The BJP should be stopped to develop a better atmosphere in the area, particularly after the riots. Whenever the BJP comes to power, it divides communities. My fight is also against the BSP.