In an interview with HINA ROHTAKI, BJP candidate and MP Kirron Kher talks about what she plans to do for Chandigarh if she wins, her husband Anupam Kher, her chances of winning, and of course, her primary opponent, Congress’ Pawan Bansal.
How significant is Anupam Kher’s role in your political career?
I would not say it is very significant in my political career. His role as a husband, as a friend, as support…is very significant. The fact that my husband and son don’t have anybody in Mumbai now to look after them, it’s a huge sacrifice. I don’t have anybody I can come home to and talk to, or laugh about. But I decided very firmly to shift here and work here. It upsets me when they say, ‘she is an actor, she doesn’t live here’, that is the biggest lie… the easiest thing to say. This is a very strange kind of complex…that a woman especially an actor will have no brains as compared to somebody who is a career politician. I was studying to get into the Foreign Services. I did my Masters from PU. Just to brand somebody as actor and trivalise is wrong. I am running around in the heat, doing my work constantly.
Opponents especially AAP leader Harmohan Dhawan said you got the ticket because of Anupam Kher and especially after the movie ‘Accidental Prime Minister’. Can you imagine anyone getting a ticket because her husband has done a film, or because husband ne sifarish lagayi, Modi sarkar aisi sarkar nahi hai jahan aapko sifarish se kuch milega.
People want to give it to a person who can win a seat. Every party will see winnability. To completely ignore my work to city, in Parliament, is unjust.It will be proved on 23rd…because I have made a difference in people’s lives.
My husband gave a very nice answer when somebody said apne apni biwi ki ticket karvayi… He said main bete ko abhi to film mein role to dilva nahi paya…biwi ko ticket kahan se dilvaunga…Aise to Vivek Oberoi aur unke father ko bhi ticket mil jaani chahiye thi.unhone to Modi ji ki life pe film banayi…aisa nahi hota… It’s a very cold-blooded, calculative thing to say…I think Congress is so used to giving tickets to the sons of their leaders.all the leaders are dynasts…so they imagine ki idhar bhi yahi ho raha hoga…Mr Shah and Mr Modi never ever do it.
No relative of mine has tried to pull favours in Chandigarh – got a job or even a license prepared, started a business, unlike others who did a lot for their families. All these people have done it.whether it is Mr Bansal or anyone.
Are the local leaders in the party cooperating with you?
It’s an ideology-based party. Everybody moves together. Somebody may feel upset for a day or two, but later everybody moves together. Rumours are bound to go around. Listen to them from one ear, take it out the other.
There is a political narrative that BJP is cashing in on air strikes post-Pulwama.
BJP has a PM and other ministers, like Jaitley, Sitharaman and Sushma Swaraj, who are very decisive leaders. Even Vajpayee ji decided to do the Pokhran test that was a strong step. He always take strong steps, unlike the UPA which just sat on the fence…allowed scams after scams…they really didn’t do much for the Army.
I am the only MP in Delhi who is a member of the defence committee… I am the one whose father, grandfather, uncles, cousins, brother-in-law have been in the defence services. I am the one who can put across very strongly the point of view of the forces saying that we politicise. First day they (Congress) said we stand with the country… second day they said where have the bombs fallen… have they fallen or not. Itna to dusre deshon ne…itna to Pakistan ne bhi nahi pucha hoga.They should have stood with the country the way after 9/11 all of the USA stood together. You should have said, ‘well done!’
When Indira Gandhi got Bangladesh its freedom and we had 93,000 personnel of Pakistan in our custody. It was Vajpayee ji who called her Durga. So I will say these people are politicising it. Opposition is claiming that it was you who got the attachment done by ED in Pawan Bansal’s nephew case, ahead of polls. That is again very childish. Maine agar aapko aise hi tang karna hota to pichle 5 saal mein tang karleti… when I came in 2014 to contest the polls, not even once did I say anything about Railways. You on the other hand have done so many deeds in the past, they are bound to bear fruit at some point of time. Why would I get the ED to do this thing? Mujhe kya mil jayega…mujhe janta vaise hi dedegi Chandigarh ki seat mera kaam dekh ke.
Just compare my 5 years with his 15 years… Do you even remember anything big done in his 15 years…I got 24×7 water, parks in villages. Did he work towards increasing the age from 25 to 37 the way I did…he was just sitting in Delhi. I’m here for five years, far more than somebody who claims I am never here.
Why did BJP take a lot of time to declare its Chandigarh candidates?
Because Chandigarh is always traditionally declared with Punjab, and they were having a problem finding someone fill Vinod Khanna’s seat. They needed a winning candidate so my seat declaration got delayed. If you notice, even Congress declared it with Punjab.
Were you being offered ticket from any other constituency as well? We heard you were offered Gurdaspur and even in Mumbai?
No these are rumours. I have only agreed to fight Lok Sabha elections last time also because they asked me to contest from Chandigarh and Chandigarh is my home town. For me to contribute something to Chandigarh is my first priority and has always been.
If you are re-elected, five things you promise to do for the city.
The first is a Rapid Transport System — an alternative to the metro which is the monorail because the metro will demolish many markets of the city. A metro is not meant for such a small city. Then I want to bring in mini buses…which were in the original plan of Le Corbusier…so that they can go into small internal roads. The city has many such roads in villages colonies…so that people can be dropped closer to their homes. That is necessary as it will give last mile connectivity.
We have already got smart gird from the Centre. There are all these wires which are outside the poles. They should all be underground. It’s a huge project. Also, having smart metric systems so that people are not overcharged.
I want to tackle the Periphery Act. There is so much development at the periphery, either they should have not allowed to get houses constructed there. When you have allowed houses to be built.they need to be provided basic amenities and safety. You can’t have notices being sent to them. So I need to tackle the Periphery Act very strongly so that people can live without fear…koi ghar tootne nahi diya maine…
For traders I want to make sure that their conflict with vendors is settled and nobody loses their livelihood, keeping both traders and vendors together. Since we are talking of traders, I want to allow them box-like structures.They don’t have storage space and they require it badly.
Also, I want to make sure that there is multi-level parking in the HC and markets keeping the ecology in mind.
We want to make Chandigarh a start-up hub on the lines of Silicon Valley, so that people can start projects here like Ola and Uber were started. People have so much creativity and we are having a brain drain to the USA. Let’s give them a place to do it here.at the same time, I want to help every government school convert into an English medium school.
How do you rate your previous five year works on a scale of 10?
That is very difficult…you need to do that. I would say I put in my best efforts, be it housing board, industrial policy, leasehold to freehold, giving the southern sectors a window to transfer their flats…utilising my MPLAD…I have utilised completely not only my own but those of Bansal ji which were left behind…People were living in slush…I have them roads, generators in villages so that when power goes their water supply doesn’t go. I gave them parks under Mera Gaon Meri Bagya. I have given so many vehicles — ambulances, animal ambulances, LPG crematorium…I have given more than 55 open in gyms…
How has life changed for you in these five years?
My husband was in New York for nine months, goes to London and other places for shooting. I haven’t taken a holiday. I am between Manimajra Dadumajra Hallomajra this where I have been working. I have gone to Mumbai only on Diwali for six days regardless of what rumours people are spreading. I am four months in Delhi for Parliament…I got the Good Samaritan Bill…I am day and night here working for them. I started working when my son turned 14. I don’t think of myself as an actor or a celebrity because I am available. I go to areas I meet people.
Why should people vote for you and not Congress candidate Pawan Bansal or any other candidate?
Because they need a clean, straightforward MP who will work hard for them like I have done in the last five years at a great personal sacrifice. I will put the city first and not my family ever as I have done, the one who will be able to go to Delhi to get their work done from ministries.