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'I won the first election because of my father'

April 30, 2009

Priya Dutt sits in her office, missing her sons (aged three-and-a-half and one-and-a-half) and admits they are her topmost priority.

It's not what you would expect of a candidate as the clock ticks down to polling day, but Dutt has charted her own course through a political career that began when her father, actor and Congress MP Sunil Dutt, passed away and she picked up the mantle.

Dutt has refused to use her brother, Bollywood star Sanjay Dutt, for political mileage even though during her campaigns in the Mumbai North Central constituency, there is the inevitable rush of people come to see 'Sanjay Dutt's sister.'

She admits she has not been hundred per cent successful at her job as MP, at least in part because of her preoccupation with her children, but she's working towards bettering that record. And her biggest worry, she tells Savera R Someshwar, is the decline of secularism and the increasing, seemingly un-breachable divide between rich and poor India.

Your party seems to be confident that Mumbai North Central is your seat for the taking.

First of all, I am never overconfident. I won the first election because of my father. But that became a bigger burden because I had to prove who I am and what I am.

This year, I had to go back to the people and tell them, this is what I have done for you -- if you think I am worthy enough to win this seat, please vote for me.

If I had just sat around and done nothing, people would not still say vote for Priya. People are not so naive; they know who will work for them, who will not, who is effective, who is not.

Photographs: Rajesh Karkera

Also see: '26/11 was a decisive reason to contest polls' | India Votes 2009