Actor Shabana Azmi, who was nominated as a member of the Rajya Sabha (RS) in 1997, is steering clear of the elections this time, despite getting offers from many political parties. Instead, she is working for women’s empowerment, and says she can’t possibly be part of any political party.
You were a member of the Rajya Sabha from 1997 to 2003. Didn’t you ever think of contesting the Lok Sabha elections?
I have been offered tickets by political parties for almost 20 years now, including this year. I took my work as a Parliamentarian very seriously at the time. People see the brawls but they don’t see how a bill is passed or how a law is made. This experience was even richer because I’ve never been part of any political party or had any political affiliations — and also because I was an independent nominee of the President of India in the RS. I just cannot join a political party because I feel that is like putting the fetters on. Your truth becomes the party’s truth, which is necessarily a selective truth.
Many people from the film fraternity are contesting the elections this time. Do you think they will make a difference?
It depends on the individuals, and how serious they are. There have been some people whose attendance was 5%. That’s not right. It’s not a medal that’s given to you, it’s a responsibility. There is no magic wand that can bring about change overnight, but a beginning has been made. What is heartening about the political scenario is that women’s issues are getting centrestage.
That is also the cause that you are addressing through your NGO Mijwan’s fashion show by Manish Malhotra.
Yes, we thought that we would include five men of style, so that we can make the statement that men stand for women. People are realising that women’s empowerment cannot be an issue left to women alone.