Sex workers have rights
Subrata Mukherjee pledges to fight for the rights of sex workers of Sonagachhi.
Subrata Mukherjee is banking on his ‘Kolkata-shining’ image to win over the electorate of Kolkata North-West, which returned rebel Trinamool (now Independent) leader Sudip Bandopadhyay to Parliament with a margin of over 94,000 votes in 1999. This year, his campaign has been stormy from the outset, with the Mayor promising to fight for the rights of the 12,000-plus sex workers of Sonagachhi. In an interview with Nandini Guha, the Mayor reveals how he will nurture his constituency and effectively swap roles — as the guardian of the corporation and a parliamentarian — if voted to power.
What is the main plank of your poll campaign?
Development for Kolkata and the country. The people of the city have already seen my work in the area of civic amenities.
I also want to give a fresh lease of life to the people of special communities, like the artisans of Kumartuli or say the hosiery workers, who sweat it out to earn their livelihood, and to slum dwellers who need more civic amenities. During my campaigns I have realised that at least 60 per cent of my voters live in the slums.
What are the specific promises that you are making to the electorate?
If elected, I will try to provide better health care facilities, especially to children who come from poor families. Labour laws also need reforms. I also want to empower sex workers with some basic rights. If necessary, I will fight in Parliament. I have worked earlier in this area as a trade union leader in an ILO body.
How do you plan to manage dual roles of a Mayor and a parliamentarian?The development of the constituency will be facilitated if I become an MP. I will simply channelise funds from New Delhi and use it to do things for my city. I have proved myself as the mayor and I am mature enough as a politician to take on the additional responsibilities of an MP.
What would you say about Sudip, who is a party colleague and your rival?
He is an Independent candidate and if I wasn’t contesting him, I would probably have contested someone from the Congress. But it is advantage Subrata this time.