I’m my father’s son, Sanjay Dutt tells Lucknow (Roundup)

February 18th, 2009 - 8:32 pm ICT by IANS  

Bharatiya Janata PartyLucknow, Feb 18 (IANS) Bollywood star Sanjay Dutt promised to walk in his late father’s footsteps and invoked his family’s old, forgotten ties with the city time and again Wednesday in an effort to tell voters he was very much in the race as the Samajwadi Party candidate from Lucknow.
“My father was never a politician. He was a social worker and did his best to work for people’s welfare. I will follow in his footsteps,” Sanjay, 49, clad in a politician’s trademark white kurta-pyjama and half jacket, said at a crowded press conference convened at the Taj hotel here.

He also hoped that actress Hema Malini, a Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MP, would not contest against him from Lucknow.

“My father, the late Sunil Datt, never opposed Hemaji, Dharamji or Vinodji (actor-turned-politicians Hema Malini, Dharmendra and Vinod Khanna of the BJP) at any political forum because such is an unwritten norm in the film industry, which is like a large family.

“Therefore I am quite sure that they would not like to oppose me either,” said Sanjay, a veteran of 120 movies. Sunil Dutt was a staunch Congress member. Sanjay’s sister Priya Dutt is a Congress MP from Mumbai.

Asked what his main plank in the April-May polls would be, the Bollywood star said he would practice ‘Gandhigiri’ - the non-violent way of life preached by “Munnabhai”, a popular character he has played in films - to win the hearts of voters.

“Ensuring peace will be a very important factor for me,” said Sanjay, who was flanked by his wife Manyata, Samajwadi Party chief and former Uttar Pradesh chief minister Mulayam Singh Yadav, party general secretary Amar Singh and actress-MP Jayaprada.

Incidentally, he chose to take the mike after the media objected to Amar Singh fielding the questions.

Dutt, who arrived here Tuesday night, wanted to send the message that he was very much planning to contest as the Samajwadi Party MP even as his lawyers are yet to seek the mandatory clearance of the apex court. He has been convicted for illegal possession of arms in connection with the 1993 Mumbai blasts.

Asked what gave him the confidence that he could win from Lucknow, the seat held by former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee for five consecutive terms, Sanjay replied: “My old connections with this city.”

“This was the city where my father lived well before he attained his fame, this city gave him the shelter that he needed, so I have come back here to pay back that debt to this city.”

Asked why he thought of visiting his father’s home in Lucknow after so many years, the actor replied: “I always wanted to come here and meet the family with whom my father lived while he worked with the All India Radio (AIR) but could not get time.”

Sanjay was to begin his day by paying a visit to his father’s Lucknow home in the narrow Ganne Wali lane in Aminabad area where the late Sunil Dutt lived with a Rizvi family for four years while working with the AIR.

But the surging crowds and lack of security forced Sanjay to make a retreat. Many in Aminabad were angry that Sanjay kept them waiting and threw away the welcome flowers and garlands in disappointment.

The actor chose to meet the Rizvi family at Jopling Road where it now lives. There Sanjay and Manyata were showered with red rose petals.

Calling Manyata its daughter-in-law, the Rizvi family also gave ‘muh dikhayee’, a post-marriage ritual in Hindu families where money is gifted to the bride after seeing her face.

“I am quite happy to visit the family with whom my father cherished some memorable moments,” Sanjay told reporters. With the family members, he went through some black and white photographs of his father.

Sanjay was hopeful of wining over people with his “commitment and sincerity”.

Fully aware of his commitment to his time-consuming profession as an actor, he said: “I would still be able to devote myself to the needs of the local population - after all, duty towards his electorate in Mumbai always remained on top on my late father’s list of priorities too.”

“You have seen Dutt saheb do it - remember I am his son,” he quipped.

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