sulabh swatchh bharat

Thursday, 20-June-2019

POONAMBEN MADAM - Member of Parliament, Lok Sabha

Swachh Bharat is every Indian’s responsibility

The first time MP from Khambhalia speaks of her leader, her work, her constituency and of course, her favourite activities in a candid interview with Sharad Gupta

How did you join the politics in the first place? Did you inherit it from your family?

Yes my grandfather, my father and my dad’s elder brother, they have all been into public life. But, I would say, not only to be elected members, but to fight for the downtrodden, I think they have given a lot of such suppressed people a strong voice. My father represented Khambhalia (Gujarat) for four consecutive terms as an independent MLA and as a daughter I would say it has been my privilege to represent the same constituency.

Was BJP your first choice?

Yes, because I believed in the leadership of the then CM Narendra Bhai Modi. He was a very, very strong leader and the kind of decisions he took were great. That way he changed Gujarat. He took it to another level. He gave a new definition to development. You know earlier, in development we couldn’t think beyond ‘roti kapda aur makan’. Narendra Bhai gave a different outlook, different meaning to development as such in form of electricity, road connectivity, water, houses, education, healthcare, job creation. So I think I am lucky. I think I’m privileged to have a leader like him and get an opportunity to work under such leadership.

Was it your decision to contest the Lok Sabha polls soon after you had been elected to Gujarat Assembly?

I am very grateful to my constituents, the citizens of Khambhaliya, who believed in me, voted for me and gave me that responsibility. I hope I have lived up to their expectations. But I had to fight another election in a year and a half. The party found me worthy. I think that step ahead was given to me because of my work in Khambhaliya. And the same happened when I fought Lok Sabha. Voters gave me the kind of margin Jamnagar had never seen before. Narendra Bhai’s leadership also played a very-very important role and that happened in the entire country as we all know.

And in Jamnagar you defeated your uncle?

The party might have decided to field me because I was his relative. But people also should decide to vote for me. And yes, he is my distant relative and he was a sitting MP for two terms, but ultimately it’s the people’s decision.

What difference you felt during your transition from Assembly to Parliament?

Assembly is like a smallest state setup. You are just addressing your state and basically your constituency. Issues are localized. Not only platform, the issues in Assembly are not as large as you have here, because it about the entire nation.

What are the issues you have raised in Parliament so far?

Issues that are dear to my heart. In my constituency we have small traders, MSME and farmers. The brass scrap, which is imported into India, 80 per cent of it is consumed in my constituency.

What help have you received from the Centre?

We’ve had a 50 per cent waiver in excise in the brass sector. It was earlier four per cent, but the government has made it two per cent in the last budget. Import duty on the brass scrap as well as customs duty has also been reduced by 50 per cent. So I am really grateful to our finance minister because this sector was going through a lot of problems because there was drought. This sector was facing competition from other countries like China, Malaysia and so forth. So this sector itself employs at least four lakh people in my constituency. We got new trains, we got a lot of funds from the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojna.

How are these national programmes implemented in your constituency?

Our Prime Minister always says that we need to get more and more people aware about the government programmes and schemes. So, that is exactly what we are doing through lot of awareness programmes of state and central government. Apart from that, we do it through our karyakartas, we do it through Gram Sabhas. But we make it a point to go there, during Gram Sabhas and create awareness in people because ultimately whatever the government does, it’s for the people. And if it doesn’t reach to them, there is no point of doing all this.

How are you focusing on rural development?

We have given many incentives to Gram Panchayats. From my MPLA​​D​S​​​ funds,I give special funds to Gram Panchayats for their development works. We have given incentives to the villages where there is a unanimous Gram Panchayat, there are no elections. This prevents the division of villagers into groups. We have a lot of villages where the people and the local leaders are very positive in their approach. They always look at the bigger picture and look for way to benefit their village. We are supporting them whole-heartedly.

What’s the progress of Swachh Bharat Abhiyan in your constituency?

We have achieved almost 70 per cent of toilet blocks. The day is not far when we will, at least my constituency will achieve almost 90-95 per cent of it. Jamnagar city is 100 per cent open defecation free. There are two Nagar Palikas which have achieved this and the others are also following soon. It’s a very healthy competition in a way.

The state government, along with the Centre, has sort of given a lot of encouragement to Sarpanches and other NGOs in the form of acknowledging them on public platforms with awards. We give incentives to any gram Panchayat that achieves the target.  But I think Swachh Bharat is every Indian’s responsibility.

personal touch

Favourite Sport

My favorite sports are jogging and playing badminton.

Favourite Sportsperson

These days it’s Virat Kohli of course and our Olympians who got us medals, be it Sakshi or Sindhu.

Favourite Actor

I always feel like sometime an actor is not justified or not done. But I have always respected Amitabh Bacchan as such.

Favourite Actress

Vidya Balan 

Favourite Food

It’s a Gujarati dish called Lapsi, it’s a desert actually.

Favourite Holiday Destination

Dwarka. Yes I spend 2-3 days in a month in Dwarka. And I am fortunate enough that this is a part of my constituency. It’s a getaway place for me where I go when

I want to take a break. And I like the entire field there, I like the atmosphere. Apart from being

very spiritual, there is

something about being there

that I like.​

Favourite Hobby

Reading. I am not into sort of fictions and all or serious reading but I read every article I come across in a magazine or a News paper.