MUMBAI: Empathy for people and desire to oppose the politics of hatred and violence are the driving forces that made her join politics, actress Urmila Matondkar, who is contesting the Mumbai North Lok Sabha constituency as Congress candidate, has said.
“In democracy every citizen needs to do his or her bit to contribute to the process. I too had decided to just join the party to fulfil my part of duty as a citizen. But, when the discussions advanced, the issue of contesting elections popped up and I accepted to be a candidate,” Matondkar said while speaking to The New Indian Express here on Saturday.
“For me politics is a responsibility and not just the means to encash popularity on silver screen,” she said. She also termed the 2019 Lok Sabha Polls as “very deciding election for the country”.
When asked to explain, she said, “We are currently living in an atmosphere of hatred and violence and I thought it is my responsibility to stand up against it. I shall stay in politics to fight this atmosphere of hate and violence whatever might be the outcome of the election,” she added.
At least a couple of times over past week Matondkar met with mobs chanting ‘Modi, Modi’ slogans in order to hoot her out during her campaign meetings.
While talking about the incidents, she said, “I’m a supporter of freedom of expression and hence I won’t say anything against people sloganeering. But, what followed that was terrifying. It took me to police station for first time in my life to seek protection. I was just shivering with fear and anger after people tried to disrupt our corner meeting.”
“Things like these contribute to atmosphere of hatred. Trolling too is a kind of violence, say on psychological level,” she added while elaborating on the different levels of threat created in such an atmosphere.
“I’m standing against the people of hatred, people of negativity in whose times people have been killed because they were reformists, they were intellectuals and they were voicing out their opinions,” she said while referring to killings of Dabholkar, Pansare and Gauri Lankesh.
“We are living in a society driven by fear,” Matondkar said while reiterating strictures passed by the high court against CM Fadnavis for lack of pace in probe of Dabholkar-Pansare murder cases.
“My integrity towards my thoughts and to my country make me take this positon and join the Congress,” she added.
Matondkar has shifted from hi-fi locality of Juhu to Kandivali to be close to people whom she wants to represent in Lok Sabha. While the opposition had been trying to portray her as someone who is not even remotely connected with the issues of common people, she makes a point to say that it was her empathy for the people which has brought her closer to them. “Opposition lacks the empathy which is needed to connect to people,” she said.
“I don’t discuss the issue of Rafael in slums,” Matondkar said and added that for the slum dwellers the fight they have to take on every day just for survival is more important than the complex issue like Rafael. She took on the opponents citing the local issues in the constituency and also defended the ‘NYAY’ explaining how practicable it is.
Some of the major issues of the constituency are housing, water scarcity, sanitation.
“This area has a multitude of issue. One would just can’t imagine that in a mega police like Mumbai there are people who don’t get water and electricity, who need good public toilets,” she said while describing the expectation people have from their representative.
“Why do we have just one women’s special local from Dahisar? Whay can’t we have more? Where are your resolves for Smart City? How can it be a smart city where the people make their MP drink worm infested water?” Matondkar said while describing a local incident and raising questions about work done by BJP’s sitting MP Gopal Shetty against whom she is contesting.
Matondkar gives credit to her family and upbringing in a modest surroundings, which she feesl have kept her connected to common people, her language and kept the desire to contribute something to the society burning in her.
She intends to focus only on her political career at the moment, while softly saying that, as of now she doesn’t see any film thing happening, as politics is something so huge and challenging.
When asked whether her colleagues from film fraternity are supporting her and are likely to come out to express solidarity with her, she says, “that is for them to decide”.
Being a “Marathi” girl is helping Matondkar in this Gujrati dominated constituency. However, “I don’t want the society to be divided in this manner,” she said.