‘It’s a battle between powerful and powerless in Maduravoyal’

Twenty-five-year-old Padma Priya, who is Makkal Needhi Maiam’s candidate for the Maduravoyal Assembly seat, talks about her entry into the politics after Kamal Haasan’s invite.
‘It’s a battle between powerful and powerless in Maduravoyal’

Chennai

She shot to fame after her video criticising the centre’s draft Environment Impact Assessment 2020 in August last year was trolled by BJP supporters on social media. An active YouTuber, she joined the MNM and was appointed as the state secretary of the party’s environmental wing. Though she didn’t aspire to become a politician, Priya always raised her voice concerning the public and grabbed the opportunity given by Kamal.
Among the nominees, you are one of the youngest candidates. How are the voters responding to you during the campaign?
I think people are matured enough to look beyond a candidate’s caste, creed and age and started to assess whether the candidate is a capable person or not. I think age will not be a restriction and it is about how I connect to the people. I can connect to a family much easier than older candidates.
You have got a chance to contest the Assembly polls months after joining MNM. Do you have any political experience prior to this?
I don’t have any political background. Moreover, I didn’t have much interest as well. Like every other commoner, I too was hopeless with the two parties alternatively ruling the state. When Kamal came in as an alternative, many youngsters like me came to politics. WhenI got an invite from him, I wanted to take it because I thought he can change everything.
If you did not have interest, why did you join MNM?
I am always concerned about society. Take my video on the draft Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) 2020, it is not something that will impact me alone. It has a larger countrywide impact. Why do I even talk about it? I could have remained silent like others. I took every single issue as my issue. I’m concerned about every person travelling along with me. So I don’t need to be an activist or politician or environmentalist but need to have concern for society. To enter politics, one should have welfare of public in mind. Youngsters should enter politics. My guru is former president APJ Abdul Kalam who had a vision for the country. After him, I saw Kamal as someone with a mission to accomplish it. Both of them want youngsters to enter politics.
What do you think are the factors that would work in favour of MNM?
All we do is work for the welfare of the public. Every contestant of our party are good in their own perspective. Party nominated the candidates hoping they would do good for the particular constituency. If you consider Maduravoyal, it is an environmentally sensitive constituency.
What are the major issues concerning the Maduravoyal constituency?
The meaning of Maduravoyal is azhagiya vaasal (beautiful gateway). The name stands for abundance of water bodies surrounded by beautiful greenfields. It is quite opposite now with water bodies encroached. All streets are littered with uncleared garbage, lacks proper drinking water supply and sewerage facility. If I am elected, I will ensure sanitation and adequate water supply.
Your chances against AIADMK minister and DMK candidate?
I feel that it is a competition between probity and corrupt. Obviously, my side will win. I don’t see the fight is between the parties but those who ruled so far and the public. I represent the common public who have neither political background nor huge wealth. All I have is education and a common sense. It is a battle between the powerful and powerless. We are hopeful of changing it.

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