news Saturday, May 16, 2015 - 05:30
Actor Gul Panag is perhaps one of the most popular faces of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) outside Delhi and reports suggest that she could soon represent the party as a television panelist. The former Miss India, who is in Bengaluru for the TCS World 10K, spoke to The News Minute about being a fitness and technology enthusiast, her equation with AAP, and the numerous roles she juggles daily. "Ever since I was a student, I was interested in politics. I saw myself as part of a political party. For me the question always was not 'if' but 'when'." Panag first met now Delhi Chief Minister and AAP chief Arvind Kejriwal in 2010, when he worked for Parivartan, a grassroots activism organisation that he co-founded. "Personally, I have seen no change in him after he became CM. He is as warm and enduring as he was earlier. He is also a very attentive listener," she says.   Contrary to what some opinions suggest, Panag feels the AAP has not become a Delhi-centric party and that faction is something all parties have to deal with.  "AAP will not become a Delhi-centric party." She says, "Every party has factions. We are a new party and the sense of party discipline needs to be defined- about what to say and what not to say outside party forums. We had an accelerated growth and are still evolving on that front. But in BJP no one speaks because of fear of forces." The birth of the idea that AAP will become a Delhi centric party took place on the day Kejriwal took oath as CM, and certain groups were unnecessarily clinging to one specific statement. Panag says, "Arvind said that he was going to be in Delhi for five years. As CM it is his job to look after the state of which he is CM. If he didn't say it, people would say that he's become ambitious and that he is trying to conquer everything else." A technology enthusiast, who also recently co-founded a mobile fitness app called MobieFit, Panag has been an active social media user for several years now. The tech savvy image, she maintains, is not a carefully created persona but that, it only reflects her opinionated self. "I come from an industry where people don’t voice their opinions, because the moment you do that you become controversial. Because you have chosen to take a stand. And the moment you have chosen to take a stand, you are going to piss certain people who do not agree with your views. And in showbiz, this is not a desirable outcome of any situation," she says. Panag has quite the following on social media and often tweets about fitness, technology and even about her dogs, in addition to her views on politics and current affairs. "When I started tweeting, I observed how my tweets were making their way to op-ed columns in newspapers and ran on tickers. Social media, apart from being convenient, allowed one to bypass the media. The media was also picking several of their leads from this platform," she says.  "Being slim and fit are two different things. If you are working out to stay fit, the bonus sometimes is that you end up looking slim. Once the regime is part of your life, the process becomes effortless." From being a "choosy" actor, to running a production company, to a budding politician who takes part in half marathons across the country to a bike lover, Panag has a lot up her sleeve and yet is enjoying every minute of what she does.  And if that isn’t enough, she tells TNM that she is in the process of getting a private pilot license. As she rushes off to another meeting, the third one for the day, she quotes the theme song of the film "Rocky", which aptly sums up her attitude towards life. "So many times, it happens too fast You change your passion for glory Don’t lose your grip on the dreams of the past You must fight just to keep them alive." Photograph by Vijayta Lalwani