“When my aunt saw me, she told me, ‘Come here, do politics here.’ But Mother says you can enjoy holidays (in Bangladesh), but do not do politics here,” she said while interacting with the young in Dhaka on Wednesday.
Tulip is visiting Bangladesh for the first time after she was elected MP for Hampstead and Kilburn in May this year.
The non-profit research organisation Centre for Research and Information (CRI) organised this interactive ‘Let’s Talk — Road to Westminster’ discussion at a Dhaka hotel.
A select group of around 350 people, mostly students of different private and public universities and young professionals, attended the event.
They asked her questions on her personal life, politics and future vision.
Tulip, granddaughter of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, said her mother did not want her in politics even anywhere in the world due to her personal experiences.
“Politics destroyed her life,” she said, as her mother had to face many ordeals after the killing of Bangabandhu in 1975.
“But she agreed when I joined politics in Britain. She even supported my entire campaign”.
She said she believed that a politician can serve people from anywhere in the world. “You don’t have to be in Bangladesh or England.”
“I try to help Bangladeshis in England in whatever way it is possible”.
Bangabandhu was assassinated along with nearly his entire family. Hasina and Rehana survived as they were abroad at the time.
Tulip was born in London in 1982. She spent four years in Bangladesh. She joined Britain’s Labour Party at the age of 16.
She said she was overwhelmed by the “love” of people. “People told me you are our pride. But I tell them no, it’s not me, it’s our freedom fighters who fought in 1971, they are our pride”.
She said she had learnt “patience” and to “be humble” from her aunt. “Those are the key in politics.”
She said she had never dreamt of being an MP in Britain. Bangabandhu, whom she has never seen, and her aunt had inspired her into joining politics.
She also recalled her childhood when she acted in a television drama ‘Boishakhi Jhor’ (monsoon storm). She also participated in school drama at Scholastica and even in British theatre.
“If I ever get time in my life, I’ll go back to it (theatre)”.
The death of her paternal grandfather when she was 16 years of age was her most somber moment, while the day she got married and the day she was elected were the most joyous days for her.
As she is expecting a girl child, Tulip said she would keep the word ‘Joy’ in the name of her daughter.
She said her family gave her “confidence” to be what she wanted to be.
“Challenges are everywhere. You have to have confidence that you can do what you want to do,” she told the youths.
On holidays, she said, she cooked with her aunt, the prime minister.
Tulip said she also played badminton when she was asked how she spent her time at home in Dhaka being a member of the Bangabandhu family.
“What you do, we also do the same,” she quipped.
She said her mother was strict and that’s why she could speak Bangla despite living abroad since her childhood.
She is now teaching her husband, the British civil servant Chris Percy, the Bangla language.
Asked to define her personality in three words, she said she was “determined, principled, and feminist”.