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Meera Sanyal, born Meera Hiranandani, is 55 years of age and has grown up in Delhi and Mumbai. She is the AAP’s candidate from Mumbai South and is also working on the party’s economic manifesto. She has studied Business from INSEAD, France and the Harvard Business School and worked as a banker all her life. She has also been involved with social initiatives for women and children. She first stood for Lok Sabha elections in 2009 as an independent candidate and lost. This year she is contesting for the same seat, against the same opponent, Milind Deora, again. (Read the interview here)
Excerpts from her interview.
I stood in 2009, and I have to share with you, it was one of the most wonderful experiences of my life. I lost the election but I gained a lot. I learnt a lot. And at the time I knew that this is something I would want to do for the rest of my life.
I think we need more women in parliament. We are much underrepresented for what we stand for. I don’t think we need reservations. I think we can and will be there on merit. All we need is a fair chance.
Milind Deora has been there for ten years. If anyone thinks that they have been satisfied in his performance—and I’m not criticising him—vote for him. But, if you haven’t—and from what I have seen there are lots of people who are not happy with it—then give me a chance.
This is a secular trend across the world- you see people across the planet are saying we are fed up with the old, same-same political establishment, whether it is the Tea Party or what you see is happening in Thailand, in Israel, in Singapore, Grillo in Italy, the UKIP in the UK. What are they looking for? They are looking for what we call good governance and they are also looking for empowerment.
There are many, many issues that Bombay needs to deal with. I would say the top three for me, the first is affordable housing. Then it’s public transport and particularly our train system.And the third is what I would call open spaces, public spaces, the parks, playgrounds.
I think Mumbai should absolutely do which I could influence as an MP, i.e. we have got a large tract of land which is the Bombay Port Trust.When Indira Gandhi set up JNPT (Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust) the idea was to decongest Mumbai and move the Bombay Port out which needs to happen. That will open up a large tract of land which we need to deal with in an intelligent manner. We can’t afford another mill land story on it. Which would open up open spaces, you could do educational institution, health institution because we are short of all of that. That offers Bombay its last chance.
Empowering enterprise, education and protection of environment are the three big things I would like to see on the AAP National manifesto.
I think simply put, what we would say is we are pro-business, we are anti-dishonest business. We are pro-markets, but we are anti-crony capitalism. We want fewer rules, fewer red tape, but strong regulation that ensures a level playing field.
I think what we can clearly say is that our party does believe in lifeline subsidies. If you don’t have enough water, absolutely, you should have water. Things like that… but something which is fiscally sustainable.
Any donation above 10 lakhs goes to the PAC, who then decides whether they are going to accept it or not. Whether that’s an individual donation, or whether it’s a corporate donation. And I think that is the filter to say, ‘Alright, is someone giving a donation which is too much, too little… what is behind it?’ I think these filters are really important.
Photo by: Shraddha Bhargava, DNA