Rattled by the aftershocks of an interview of hers that appeared in the Hindustan Times on Wednesday, Priya Dutt — Congress MP and self-appointed keeper of the flame of one of Mumbai’s most influential political and movie dynasties — rephrased in a press conference some of the things she had said in the interview.
On Tuesday, she had spoken bitterly about her actor brother Sanjay Dutt’s decision to contest elections on a Samajwadi Party ticket and of how her sister-in-law, former actress Maanyata, had widened the rift between members of their family.
“What I said was misinterpreted,” she said at the press conference. “That was not my language.” When HT asked her later how her quotes had been misrepresented, she said: “Your article said I had called Maanyata ‘manipulative’. That was not a word I had used. I’m not against her but I’m not the best of friends with her. There is definitely a distance. I’ve my own ideals but I’m not in a position to tell Sanjay what to do. Or his wife. He takes his own decisions.”
At the press conference, she said, as she had in the HT interview, she was disappointed at Sanjay’s decision to contest on an SP ticket. “My family has always been a Congress family. It would’ve been better if he had fought on a Congress ticket.” Denying that the Congress hadn’t backed Sanjay, she said: “To say that the Congress didn’t stand by Sanjay [during hard times] is not true.”
Priya said there was no feud in the family. “But it hurts very much,” she said, “when we have to know these things [Sanjay’s marriage, his decision to enter politics] through the press.”
Contacted in Srinagar, Sanjay said: “Our family problems should be sorted out behind closed doors. This is not something that should be public.”