High-profile Mumbai Congress politicians and former MP Priya Dutt on Monday announced that she will not contest the upcoming 2019 Lok Sabha elections, as "it was time to take a break from active politics".
Dutt, 52, said there was lot of speculation about her plans to stand for the 2019 polls, especially after she was recently dropped as an AICC Secretary, but she had discussed the issue with Congress President Rahul Gandhi a couple of months back on her plans to "step out for a while", as she had made it clear in 2005.
Priya -- daughter of the late actor couple Sunil Dutt and Nargis, and sister of Bollywood actor Sanjay Dutt - joined politics after her father's demise in May 2005 and was elected to the 14th and 15th Lok Sabha, before facing defeat in 2014.
"When I agreed to enter electoral politics in 2005, I was clear that I would contest three terms and step out for a while. There is more to life than politics and I also wanted the freedom to experience and explore other aspects of my life," Dutt said.
She said she never envisioned herself as being only a politician or "owning the permanent right to be the only INC contestant from the Mumbai North-Central parliamentary constituency".
"This constituency never belonged to my father, to me or for that matter any one person; it belongs to the people who make it. We come in and are chosen by the people as caretakers and must give opportunity for fresh and new ideas," said Dutt.
After remaining in electoral politics for nine years (2005-2014) and fighting three general elections, she said "it was time" and also working within the system all these years, it became clear that she could "either work within it or outside it" and there are other ways to serve the people.
"To all those in the party that I have had disagreements with, I hope they understand it was never personal," she added, urging the people of her constituency to vote discerningly.
However, although promising to work for the Congress and its candidate, she made it clear she would not support anyone her conscience does not permit.
Dutt expressed deep gratitude to her mentor Sonia Gandhi and described Rahul Gandhi as "extremely committed and sincere".
"The Congress is a party of great minds and young blood. Our country needs a good human being and a compassionate leader, which I truly believe he (Rahul) is," she concluded.
Her latest move, in the air since sometime, was reportedly provoked by severe factionalism in the Mumbai Congress, presently headed by Sanjay Nirupam, and other related issues.
Dutt lives in Bandra, Mumbai with her husband, Owen Roncon, and sons Sumair and Siddharth.