Meerut, 27 March-2016,A Ganesh Nadar: Nagma is perhaps the only actress who has acted with the superstars in every Indian film industry — Kannada’s late Raj Kumar, Hindi’s Amitabh Bachchan, Tamil’s Rajnikanth, Telugu’s Chiranjeevi, Malayalam’s Mamootty….
‘The party is going through hard times. One doesn’t back off when your party needs you the most. Tough people never withdraw from the race,’ movie star Nagma, the Congress candidate from Meerut, UP, tells Rediff.com’s A Ganesh Nadar.
Exclusive Interview with Bollywood actress Nagma on LS election
She joined the Congress party in 2003 and was a star campaigner in all elections since then. This time, she is a candidate for the Meerut Lok Sabha constituency in Uttar Pradesh.
You are a superstar in the south. Why are you contesting from the north?
I do everything honestly and truthfully. I have acted in different languages. I belong to the single largest party in the country. I am popular all over.
The Congress was decimated in the Delhi assembly polls and you have chosen a seat only 70 kilometres from Delhi.
I am a soldier of the party. The party high command decides the candidate and constituency.
I am doing what my party wants and I will do it well.
Senior Congress ministers are refusing to contest the election and you are willing. How come?
The party is going through hard times. We are a 125-year-old party. Wins and losses are a part of elections. We have seen both.
We follow a secular ideology with our head held high.
One doesn’t back off when your party needs you the most.
Tough people never withdraw from the race.
Uttar Pradesh is a tough state to contest an election from.
If you can fight an election in Uttar Pradesh and get elected, you will become a very polished politician, ready to take part in national politics.
Even Narendra Modi is a first time candidate from Uttar Pradesh.
What is your equation with Rahul Gandhi?
Rahul Gandhi is my leader. I am a party soldier.
When did the star campaigner decide to become a candidate??
In 2004 I was offered a seat. I was busy with movies at that time and so I declined.
I like to give 100 percent to whatever I do.
When Ms J Jayalalithaa got into politics, she stopped dabbling in movies. She is a huge success.
In past elections, I have campaigned for my party and now they have asked me to contest.
You have been canvassing for others in the last few elections. Who will canvass for you?
When I am the candidate I have to fight my own battle. I cannot be dependent on others.
The daily expense per volunteer is around Rs 2,000. How will you manage?
Paid volunteers are for non-popular candidates. I am popular, you know that.
All my volunteers work for me because they like me, they respect me.
No one will ask for money to work for me.
How are you planning to answer for all the scams your party and government has been accused of?
The Congress is the oldest party in the country. We have brought the best welfare schemes for our people.
The rural employment guarantee scheme, work for all, the rural health mission, the right to food, right to education, right to information, Lokpal and so many other schemes.
I admit that some untoward incidents have happened. There are bad elements in every party. You cannot judge the whole party for the misconduct of a few.
We have taken strong action against them. We never shield the corrupt.
The NDA (National Democratic Alliance) has not come out with any such schemes.
Our growth rate at the worst time was better than their growth rate at the best of times.
What about B S Yeddyurappa, the Bellary brothers? The NDA can never be better than the UPA (United Progressive Alliance.
Modi talks in the air. All he has done is take farmers’ land cheaply and handed it over to his rich industrialist friends.
From a highly successful actress you went to Art of Living, then you were interested in Christianity and now in politics. You think politics is your true calling, or will we see many more avatars of Nagma?
Films was one dimension of my character. I did it as a career.
Art of Living and Christianity were a part of my spirituality.
Now I want to serve the people and have chosen a political platform to do so.
I was always in awe of Indiraji and Rajeevji.
When I met Soniaji in 2003 I was very impressed. She was so soft spoken and yet I realised that she had steel in her. She is a very strong woman.
I decided to join the Congress and will be here always.
Have you made any special plans for Meerut?
I have lots of plans for Meerut — infrastructure development, a highway from Delhi to Meerut, a high court bench, sugar mills, law and order.
You know this was a big place for sports goods manufacture, which has now fallen on bad times.
Let me win the election first and then I will take up all this work.
Tell me, how you are going to win votes.
I have a secular and service agenda. I will bring an honest approach to that. I will encourage my volunteers to work hard. We will approach every voter.
Politics is dominated by men, how are you holding your own?
The film industry was also dominated by men. I managed to hold my own, I did more than hold my own.
I will always work hard to be a winner.
Recently 67 Kashmiri students were suspended in Meerut for cheering for Pakistan. What are you going to do about that?
I am in the middle of an election. Let me first win the election. Then I will put my energy and 100 per cent into tackling every problem here.
Just give me time.
Are you planning to reach out to women in particular?
I will be reaching out to women. The women fraternity has to support their own.
That doesn’t mean I am not going to ask men to vote for me.
As a woman, do you feel safe in Delhi, in Uttar Pradesh, in our country?
You cannot allow someone’s sex to be a hindrance. You cannot let it stop you from doing your work.
I have traveled far and wide as an actress and am doing so as a politician.