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'26/11 was a trigger for me to take the plunge'

April 24, 2009 21:08 IST

Independent candidate from Mumbai South, Meera Sanyal was on rediff chat to explain her plans and reasons for contesting the forthcoming polls.


Meera Sanyal:  Hi room, I am Meera Sanyal from Mumbai South, and am here to answer your questions.
In the 25 years I have been in banking, I have reached the top of my profession. I bring these accomplishments and experience to create accountability and transparency in governance. I monitor my results quarterly and want to bring a fresh style of functioning in parliament. This will make all parliamentarians directly answerable to their electorate.

Bimalesh asked:  As a condidate for election, to whom you want to represent workers, peasants, artisans or bankers.

Meera Sanyal answers, I represent the people of South Mumbai -my constituency.

mahesh asked: Hello, Are you using any social media effectively for your campaign ?

Meera Sanyal answers, Hi Mahesh, I am going for my padyatra every morning. I meet a lot of different people from all walks of life from my constituency.

Rajat asked:  Gd aftrnn..wat will be the differentiator between Urself/Mr. Gopinath  and anyother Corporate to politics turned leader turned politician.

Meera Sanyal answers:  this is Meera Sanyal, independent candidate from South Mumbai. I am running for elections because Mumbai is a wonderful city, and Mumbaikars are perhaps the most productive, hardworking people in the world. But their infrastructure and governance structures let them down. 26/11 was an example of that. It was the trigger for me to say, Enough is enough. I decided to get into the boxing ring. My chances of getting elected are extremely bright and getting stronger by the day. I have been campaigning now for a month, and am criss-crossing the city every day on foot. As I go on my padyatras and talk to the ordinary Mumbaikar, I hear how dissatisfied they are with the politicians and the political parties of the day. People are yearning for change, they're looking for efficacy, productivity and accountability in public services and from their leaders. 

Chandra asked:  Even I tried my hand a couple of years back when I helped a friend in floating a party but then I resigned after a few months when I found them to be too dirty in terms of ethics and principles....

Meera Sanyal answers, Chandra, this is precisely why I am running as an independent. Political parties are not serving the needs of the people. They are losing market share because they don't deliver and are not able to attract the right talent.

Maniventhan asked:  How much money did you invested for this election?

Meera Sanyal answers,;The election commission says candidates have a limit of Rs. 25 lakhs to spend on this election. I intend to stick to that limit. We are running a model campaign, and want to show that it can be done according to the rules - and still win.

ankitshah asked:  Meera,  Tell me one thing....wht will you do when a debate is on the parliament or during the question hour.Will you give first priority to your office or the people you may represent in the parliament And if you intend to give a 100% to you people, is'nt it ethically correct to step down fromm the office that you hold now. Won't there be a conflict of interest later on. Please reply and dont give diplomatic answers.-Ankit

Meera Sanyal answers,;Dear Ankit, when I am elected to Parliament, I will represent my constituency, and will vote in favour of my constituents - which is the people of south Mumbai. I will be a full-time Parliamentarian, and will step down from my current job.

jaee asked: Madam,  Waht is your experience in politics ? 

Meera Sanyal answers, I have no experience in politics, which given the state of Indian politics I believe is an advantage. I do have 25 years of experience in governance, management and leadership of large teams of people.

rajeev asked:  All the best to you Mrs.Sanyal. A lot can be said about your candidature since you come from an elite class so it will be difficult for you to understand the basic needs of common men but I am happy that at least  you decided to come forward. How do you feel that you will make any difference with present lot of politicians.

Meera Sanyal answers,;Many thanks! Please join my padyatras and you will see how Mumbaikars and I connect with each other. The next padyatra is tomorrow morning at 6 am at Worli Sea Face, and we will be in the area till 12 noon, covering the entire area and all socio-economic groups.

SHRIDHAR asked: madam are u confident of winning the election if yes in which grounds

Meera Sanyal answers,;Yes, I am. Because I am focusing on the issues rather than on who will win.

ashishsureka asked: What kind of change you will bring once you got elected
Meera Sanyal answers,;A change for clean politics and good governance. The most important change which is already taking place is that good people are considering joining politics.

Kiran G S asked: Mam nice to see a banker in making a politician. What would be your first 3 action points after your winning.

Meera Sanyal answers,;Nationally, I will focus on the Economy, on Education, and on the Environment. My 3-E policy! For Mumbai, I will focus on my Panch-a-Mantra, of which my first priority is a radical overhaul of the public transport system, especially improving the comfort and safety on the local trains.  For my constituency in South Mumbai, my focus is on Water, Affordable Housing and more Open Spaces.

yash asked: hi, can u understand the pain of  stupid common man like us?have u ever traveled the streets without air conditioned car for last 10 years period?

Meera Sanyal answers,;Hi Yash,  I certainly can. I use Mumbai's public transport system often - buses, trains, taxis and rickshaws. I have also travelled through rural India extensively. To get to know me better, why don't you join my padyatras? Tomorrow morning at 6 am at Worli Sea Face.

JOHN asked,;Hello Meera madam, what do you plan to do for the nation?

Meera Sanyal answers,;Dear John, When I am in Parliament, I will focus on implementing my 3-E policy - Economy, Education, Environment.

aaa asked,;HI Meera , what made u plunge into politics...u have a stable corporate career than did not u think that it could be a risky decision

Meera Sanyal answers,;26/11 was certainly a trigger for me to take the plunge. I think it is time that we stopped criticizing the system and had the courage to do something positive. Hence my decision.

sbirthariya@ymail.com asked,;our system is bad,even if mahatma gandhiji is contested in these election,he will lost the election because our system is made like that which runs on money & power.i think this is the opening in terms of Sanyal is contesting,but what if she wins then also she has to go with the same system,what's the planning for changing the system

Meera Sanyal answers,;Let us not prejudge the system. Based on my interaction with people across my constituency, I sense there is a great sense of cynicism about politics and politicians. Many people feel the same way that you do. But unless good people enter the system, it cannot change. Have hope!

dave asked,;hello Meera!! IF you really wish to be a winner please answer to this question whenever you come alive on this line-''what would you or can do to eliminate the rule of speed money(read bribes)in govt. departments??100% of the people dealing with any govt, agency are the sufferers and your candid and meaningful workable solution can fetch you a lot of votes. DAVE RAINA

Meera Sanyal answers,;Hello Dave, I have received many such questions. I believe the implementation of the Nagara Raj Bill in undiluted form across Mumbai, will greatly reduce corruption and increase accountability. Let me know if you need further details.

kiran asked,;why should people vote for independent candidates when we very well know this will not contribute to the stability of the coming goverment?

Meera Sanyal answers,;Dear Kiran,  Do you think we are going to have a stable government whether or not I contest? From what we read in the papers, neither the Congress nor the BJP seem confident of getting a majority even with their allies.

JOHN asked,;good question Kiran, or else they will join some political party as coliation

Meera Sanyal answers,;Thanks John and Kiran,  To reassure you both and also both the major political parties, let me state that I will vote with each of them when their issues are in the national interest, but vote against them when they are not. For my definition of what is "in the national interest" please refer to the Preamble of our Constitution.

satyam asked,;Madam......All the best for Lok Sabha Polls......Why are u contesting Lok Sabha Polls......In your manifesto u have taken issues which comes mainly under Muncipal Elections and Maharastra Assembly...Dont u think by your contesting u will break votes of Milind Deora......Regards

Meera Sanyal answers,;Satyam, many thanks. Please see my answer earlier in terms of my national agenda - the 3-E policy. It does seem that Milind Deora is very worried that I am breaking into his vote bank! But let me state that I am not standing against anyone, but standing for Mumbai. I believe I am winning the hearts and votes of people who have stopped voting or who have not yet voted because they did not believe in their candidate.

namit asked,;HI meera congrats on the initiative that you took. It is really inspirational . However , I feel you should have left ypur job rather than taking a sabbatical , it seems a half hearted effort that way

Meera Sanyal answers,;Dear Namit,  I am a professional banker not a professional politician. When I win, I will stand down from my job at the bank. Should I lose, I will continue to focus on the issues of Mumbai and India and stand for the next Lok Sabha elections.

sidharth asked,;kasab jaise harame adme ko abhe tak q jida rakha gaya hai?kya or ek plane hijack karna chahate hai?aaj tak uske uper cor rs kharcha kiya gaya hai q? kabhe kabhe aisa lagta hai ke ye policties vale he sab karate hai aaj india may kedhar bhe javo kisko malum nahe ke vo vapes ghar ane vala hai kya nahe kab kedhar attack ho jaye

Meera Sanyal answers,;Thanks Siddharth. This is why we have to strengthen the security not just of Mumbai but of our nation.

vinod asked: Meera ji, what are your vision about lifting the downtrodden.

Meera Sanyal answers,; Dear Vinod,  I believe if we focus on stronger growth in the economy and on education then our country, and the 300 million people who are still living in absolute poverty, will have a better life. This is why I have focused on the economy and education in my national agenda. And we must do this without harming the environment.

nikhil asked: manmohan singh recently said that independent candidates are spoilers and shouldn't be encouraged, don't you think it puts across a shoddy picture of the prime minister as not being sportive? and also this congress government has probably been the worst there has ever been, do you see the congress party as the biggest hangover of indian socialism?

Meera Sanyal answers,;Dear Nikhil,  I have the highest regard for our prime minister. Perhaps his hands are tied.

Anindya asked: Hi Meera,Do you think you will be able to take the voice of "ordinary citizens" to parliament?
Meera Sanyal answers,;Hi Anindya,  I am also an ordinary citizen and one who cares deeply about our country. In the last one month, many of the issues I have raised in my agenda have been adopted by the other parties so I am confident that they will be addressed. They are the issues of the ordinary citizen.

gomeera asked: Ms Sanyal, what about a plan of hiving off Mumbai into a seperate state, like Delhi?

Meera Sanyal answers,;I do not believe that hiving off Mumbai is the answer to the city's problems. The answer is investing more into its infrastructure so that it can be as vibrant and productive a city as its citizens are. We must also get back for Mumbai, more of what it sends to the centre as taxes. Just now, Mumbai gets just 3% of the Rs.95,000 crores it sends to Delhi as taxes.

Jay asked: Raj Thakre says there is no place for non-marathis in Mumbai.what do you say?

Meera Sanyal answers,;I do not believe in shutting the gates of the city. I do believe however that Mumbai must get more investment for it to reach its true potential so that Shanghai will aspire to be like Mumbai.

Apurva asked: Hello Mam, My strong wish is that u win for sure. As per my experineced with common public is that they just dont knw all ppl, they feel thr is only two parties..congress or BJP

Meera Sanyal answers,;Thanks Apurva. In fact the two national parties have been losing market share in the past years, and have ceeded space to regional parties and now independent candidates who are stepping into the vaccum created by lack of governance and political non-performance.

shrinivas asked: what is first in your agenda if selected I mean which is the issue need to take primarily

Meera Sanyal answers: Dear Shrinivas, When I am elected to Parliament, my top priority nationally will be to address the problems of the economy, and my top priority for Mumbai will be improving the public transport, especially local rail, system. 

pv asked: do you solemnly promise to remain independent throughout & not join (be bought) any party, after you win.

Meera Sanyal answers,;The political parties must reform themselves first before they can attract the right talent. They are losing market share, and candidates such as myself far prefer to be independent.  I am joining politics and standing as an independent not to be bought. I am doing it so we can reclaim our country.

abrahamlk asked: Madam do u have a website for these elections. My regards to your brother Dr. Manik.Meera Sanyal answers,;www.meerahsanyal.in. On Facebook, go to Meera Sanyal for South Mumbai.

salestaxvat1@rediffmail.com
asked: Madam, I know you are the great in the field of economy, i know you from last some years by your articles. But I am not aware of yours any social work,

Meera Sanyal answers,;Thanks for that question. I have, under the aegis of the bank, set up a successful microfinance programme for 7 lakh women in rural India. I have also helped to build the NGO Support, which works with the drug-addicted. And most importantly, my bank was the first to set up a BPO in lower Parel. It was in 2000, and Lower Parel was still the crumbling old mill area. I chose the space because it was important to rehabilitate it. I have created 2,500 jobs in that BPO in lower Parel alone, and many of those employees are children of the displaced mill workers. We sought them out.

vanita asked: Hi, i see you as a pon in the hands of the sena looking at cracking the south mumbai seat whats your view on that
Meera Sanyal answers,;Dear Vanita, I am a pawn of nobody - not the Sena, not the Congress, not the BJP, not the NCP, not anybody. I am an independent candidate and only answerable to the citizens of this wonderful city who are my constituents.

mangeshbaxi asked: What is your take on reservations in Private sector ?.

Meera Sanyal answers,;Dear Mangesh,  I don't believe in reservations for anyone on the basis of caste or creed or religion. I do believe that those who are economically disadvantaged must be given help - but only those. Otherwise, the answer is to expand and build our systems of education and our economy so that there is equal opportunity for everyone in India to learn, work and live a life of dignity.

veer asked: what are viwes on the people coming to mumbai from north indian states.

Meera Sanyal answers,;I believe the fact that Mumbai has had open doors has made it a vibrant and dynamic city. I believe it should continue this policy. But we need to invest in the infrastructure of the city so it can cope with the influx of immigrants. At the same time we must also work on developing other cities and rural areas so that the pressure on the cities is alleviated.

coolio asked: Ma'am - are you joining politics because the Economic conditions around the world have smashed Banks and your own bank is reeling under a severe crisis. You could not control its failure, so are you now trying to escape to parliament under the guise of helping society ?

Meera Sanyal answers,;I am the CEO of ABN AMRO Bank in India and have been with this bank for 17 years out of my banking career of 25 years. I would like to share with you that I have enjoyed every moment at the bank not just because it gave me the opportunity to contribute to the development of this country through financing infrastructure projects in telecom, power, airports etc, but also by creating employment for over 6,000 people through the BPO that I set up. I also chair the foundation of the bank which has financed over 650,000 of the poorest women in rural India and undertaken numerous poverty-alleviation projects in threatened biospheres such as the Sunderbans and Melghat. My bank is a fine institution and I am proud to be part of it. It has now given me the opportunity to take a sabbattical to stand for elections because they know how deeply I care for my country.

VissionIndia asked: Madam, All the best for Lok Sabha Polls. I have seen your interview and read your view.Every night i cant sleep because whatever is happening in our country. Even i wanted to somthing. But i dont know from where should i start. I have vission to do everthing for our peoples. I can chalange every politican that i can remove Corruption  within 1 year from our country. but know from where to start. I just cant remove Corruption  , i can do many things. I dont get sleep everynight.

Meera Sanyal answers,;Dear friend, do not lose hope. Vote for clean politicians and good governance.

vedsharma asked: DEAR MADAM,BEST OF LUCK FOR LOK SABHA ELECION.WILL U BE COMFORTABLE AFTER ELECTING IN UN EDUCATED AND UNCIVILIZED POLITICIANS.?

Meera Sanyal answers,;Indian politics has had a wonderful tradition of politicians like Jawaharlal Nehru and Mahatma Gandhi. I hope we will see that tradition flowering again, as India experiences a political renaissance.

nids asked: Hi Meera just wanted to say All the best ..and also add that I really appreciateyou brvae step

Meera Sanyal answers,;Thank you.

Anil Chaudhary asked: Meera, As a banker do u not feel that money in swiss banks will be withdrawn by its rightful owners much before L K Advani is even able to raise this issue

Meera Sanyal answers,;Dear Anil, you are absolutely right!

Dwijottam asked: Hi Meera, why don't you tell all on this chat what great work you did in involving the massive number of ABN employees in great social responsibility projects? I still remember your inspiring work in that regard.

Meera Sanyal answers,;Thank you, Dwijottam. Please see my answer to Coolio a few minutes ago.

prasanta asked: I am a social activist and want to get into politics what you say regarding this

Meera Sanyal answers,;Dear Prasanta, all good people must enter politics now.

karthick chennai asked: Hi Meera, glad that people like you are entering this domain. What do you think your chances are in these elections? How will you be different compared to other politicians?

Meera Sanyal answers,;Dear Karthick, thank you. I believe my chances of winning are very good. With regard to being different, I will stand by and in favour of my constituents, and will not have to toe the line of a political party or political head. There are many good politicians in India today, but their hands are tied and they have to adhere to the party line. I do not. aa asked,;how was support from lower middle class during padayatra

Meera Sanyal answers,;It was excellent. People are looking for change. The elders gave me their blessings, and children joined in our padyatras.

ASR asked: Hi... Best of luck for the elections.  My question is - Do you think any thing can be done to lower the entry barrier (money power) for contesting elections?

Meera Sanyal answers,;The election commission has set the spending limit of Rs. 25 lakhs per constituency for candidates. If politics is conducted in a clean manner, it is possible to stay within the limits of the Election Commission rules. I am doing so.

mohann asked: Wishing you the very best.  Do you think it would be possible to find out candidates in each constituency so that the next election can be fought with like minded people forming a seperate group.  Would you take initiative for this kind of interaction whether or not you win this elections

Meera Sanyal answers,;Thank you, Mohann. Already, there is a wave of like-minded people who have stepped in to the  political arena as independents. There is Captain Gopinath in Bangalore, Malika Sarabhai in Ahmedabad, a Standard Chartered banker in Hissar, and so on, apart from me. Whether or not they form a separate group remains to be seen.

apogee asked:Suppose you win the election and it is a hung parliament who are you going to side with? UPA? NDA? Please do not answer I will abstain. We as voters do not send anybody to abstain

Meera Sanyal answers,;I will side with the party whose issues I find are in the national interest. For my definition of what is "in the national interest" please refer to the Preamble of our Constitution.

Meera Sanyal says,;Thank you everybody, it was lovely chatting with you. Whether or not you choose to vote for me, please support my agenda for change, and do please vote on April 30th. For those of you in South Mumbai, please join me in the Meet Your Candidate Debate this evening at 6 pm at the G.D. Somani School in Cuffe Parade. Warm regards, Meera Sanyal