Expressing disgust over the issue of nationalism and Pakistan being played up in election campaign, yesteryear actress and Trinamool Congress candidate from Asansol, Moon Moon Sen, said if needed, she would again talk to her old “friend” Imran Khan, the Pakistan prime minister.
Ms Sen, however, declined to speak to Mr Khan on bilateral issues, saying with “several astute politicians” in the country, she would never be given the responsibility.
She praised Prime Minister Narendra Modi for boosting India’s image abroad but regretted that while doing so, he had forgotten the issues plaguing his own country, especially unemployment.
“Imran is a friend of mine. We are not involved in any way. But the kind of divisive politics that is going on (over nationalism with reference to Pakistan) is very dangerous,” Ms Sen told PTI in an interview.
Asked if she needed, will she again talk to him given the atmosphere of animosity between the two nations, she said, “Why not? After all, he is a friend.”
During the late 80s and 90s, when Mr Khan was a cricketing hero leading the Pakistan team, Ms Sen was considered to be his good friend, and their friendship was a regular fodder for newspapers, gossip magazines and tabloids.
Asked if she would act as an emissary if the government asks her to be, the daughter of legendary Bengali film actress Suchitra Sen said she would never be assigned such a job.
“No, I would never go on my own to talk to him and I am sure I would never be asked to do so. There are several astute politicians. Mamata Banerjee is a very astute politician and she would never exploit my friendship with Imran. He has a lot of friends in Kolkata, my husband is also his friend, I am not the only person,” Ms Sen said, adding that she had last met Mr Khan several years ago when he was in the city for an India-Pakistan cricket match.
Asked to comment on Mr Khan’s statement that he believed there was a better chance of peace talks with India and settling the Kashmir issue if the BJP wins the general election, Ms Sen declined to comment.
“I won”t make a comment on this. It”s just a pure political talk and they are changing statements every next day,” she said.
Speaking on Prime Minister Modi, Ms Sen credited him for boosting the image of the country abroad.
“As a parliamentarian, I think he has not been very regular. I have not seen him much.
“Maybe he had other important things to do. I have heard his two or three speeches in Parliament but they were more or less like campaign speeches. I think he, as PM, has given us a good image abroad but he had forgotten the issues in his own country,” she said.
The actress-turned-lawmaker credited PM Modi for endearing himself to Indians living abroad, after Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi, but criticised him for a hasty implementation of the Goods and Services Tax and his failure to create enough jobs.
Where are the jobs? So many educated youths are still unemployed in the country, what about the promise to create jobs?” she said.
Known to be a giant slayer after defeating nine-time CPI(M) MP Basudeb Acharia in 2014 from Bankura Lok Sabha seat – a Left stronghold, Ms Sen feels the last five years as an MP have been a great learning experience.
“I had made a special relationship with the people of Bankura. Even if I am not contesting from there, people from Bankura have called me and wished me luck,” she said.
Ms Sen, an actor with extraordinary oomph in her heydays, declined to attach much importance to her main opponent in Asansol – Union minister and sitting MP Babul Supriyo – and termed him a “kid”.
“He is just a kid. I think in Asansol the fight is between Modi and Mamata Banerjee and I am confident about my victory,” she said.
Referring to her shift from Bankura Lok Sabha constituency, she said she was surprised when she came to know she will be contesting from Asansol.
“I had no idea. Mamata had asked me whether I am interested in contesting again. I said ”yes”. Then, when the candidate list was announced, I was in Mumbai, my husband told me that I have been nominated from Asansol, I was surprised,” she said.
Asked about reports that TMC leaders in Bankura felt Moon Moon Sen, since her win in Bankura in 2014, didn’t do much in the constituency and she was hardly visible as an MP, Ms Sen said she is not interested in answering such allegations.
“Look I stay in Kolkata, but whenever I have been asked I had gone. I had also utilized MPLAD funds. But if still some people think I have done nothing then it is up to them,” she said.
She also refuted allegations that film stars don’t make good public representatives and cited examples of several actor-turned-politicians who have been very successful.
Asked about her plans for Asansol, the 65-year-old said she would focus on tackling the menace of pollution in the industrial town and financial empowerment of women in the area.
Replying to the query, whether she would let her daughters Riya Sen and Raima Sen, who too are well-known actors, join politics in future, she said it”s up to them to decide.
The election in Asansol is scheduled to be held on April 29.
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