Penn and Politics: MNM’s Padma Priya promises to make women’s voices heard

As part of the Penn and Politics series, TNM caught up Padma Priya, a 25-year-old microbiologist, teacher and YouTuber.
MNM candidate Padma Priya
MNM candidate Padma Priya
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Penn and Politics is a series where we bring you the voices of aspiring women political leaders and politicians contesting in the 2021 Assembly elections, in a move towards better representation of women in politics. 

Padma Priya, a 25-year-old woman has been fielded as Makkal Needhi Maiam’s (MNM) candidate in Maduravoyal Assembly constituency to take on AIADMK Minister and sitting MLA P Benjamin and DMK’s Karapakkam Ganapathi in the upcoming election. A microbiologist and a teacher, Padma Priya shot to fame through her YouTube channel Chennai Thamizhachi, where she posted several videos on environmental issues. 

The YouTuber first met MNM chief Kamal Haasan and received appreciation for her work after her video on the draft Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) 2020 went viral, with Padma Priya facing an online attack. Within a few months, Padma Priya joined the party and later became the state secretary of MNM’s environmental wing.  

Padma Priya spoke to TNM on the issues faced by the people of her constituency and the laws she will bring if elected to power. 

How did you decide on contesting elections from Maduravoyal and why should people vote for you?

My home is located in Maduravoyal and the constituency is becoming environmentally sensitive and sensible. So I gave options as Maduravoyal and Virugambakkam. But Maduravoyal needs environmental help and that’s why the party has fielded me in Maduravoyal.

For your second question, the people do not have an option, if they want some good thing to happen they should vote for me. If our voices are not heard in the Assembly now then it will never be heard. It takes guts to stand against AIADMK and DMK. This did not happen in the past 50 years. I am believing in my party leader and contesting, so if people believe me and vote for me then I can bring a change.

What is your biggest contribution to the welfare of people so far as an activist?

I have come to the political arena with guts and I see that as a big thing. People are asking me what I did to contest in the election but my video on EIA went till the Union government. Reach is important and my content has reached a lot of people. I think this is my biggest contribution. 

What are the top 2-3 issues in your constituency that will be your priorities after you win?

The main issue I see is the garbage problem. I never drop garbage on the street and I put them only in a bin. I still know that the garbage in the bin will not be processed and still dropped on the ground. However, this cycle needs to be changed. The government should ensure that the garbage is recycled.

Secondly, I want to first make Maduravoyal into a model constituency and later change the whole of Tamil Nadu. In Maduravoyal, there are also several water resources but rampant encroachment and sand theft is exploiting the waterbody. So, I want to protect the water resources.

Thirdly, even my own brother doesn't have a job in an industrial area like Maduravoyal so I want to create jobs.

If you are elected as a woman MLA, then what are you planning to do for the women? 

I will ensure security for women and make sure their voices are heard. As a women MLA, I would also like to inspire them.

You will be a legislator for the state if you win; what laws do you think need to be brought or changed?

I will bring new laws to stop cyberbullying. There is no space for women to talk and there are several problems faced by women on social media like morphing. Hence, to make more educated women voice their views boldly, we need to take stringent action against people who are involved in cyberbullying.

Why do you think women MLAs are important for the state?

To represent women. Women should get empowered and empowered women should uplift the next set of women, so for that we need women’s representation.

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