I will contest as Samajwadi Party candidate, says defiant Sanjay (Lead)

January 17th, 2009 - 12:10 am ICT by IANS  

Sonia GandhiMumbai, Jan 16 (ANS) Unmindful of objections from his family members, Bollywood actor Sanjay Dutt Friday night announced he would contest the next parliamentary elections on a Samajwadi Party ticket. He also said there was no dispute in his family over the issue.Addressing a press conference here, the actor said he was the eldest member of the Dutt family and so there was no need to discuss his political plans with anybody.

If there were legal hurdles to his plans, then the next step would be decided accordingly, he said in the presence of Samajwadi Party general secretary Amar Singh.

Dutt was addressing a hurriedly convened press conference at his residence to clarify the situation in the wake of an outburst by his younger sister, Mumbai North-West MP Priya Dutt, objecting to his candidature as a Samajwadi Party candidate.

However, Dutt said that if required, he would readily campaign for her in Mumbai. “There is no dispute in the family of any kind over this issue,” Dutt asserted.

Asked why she had criticised his decision to enter politics, Dutt magnanimously said: “If she has said so, I forgive her. We children always used to commit mistakes and my father (the late) Sunil Dutt always used to forgive us.”

To a query that Priya had questioned his wife’s credentials as the family’s daughter-in-law, Sanjay emphatically said that Manyata is his wife, “she is the only Mrs. Dutt” and she is the daughter-in-law of his parents, the late Sunil and Nargis Dutt.

Dutt also said that the courts had removed charges against him under the Terrorist & Disruptive Activities (TADA) Act and he had only been charged under the Arms Act - “Whenever you write anything about me, please keep this in mind,” Dutt appealed to the media.

Amar Singh called for unity of all secular forces and said that the Congress and the Samajwadi Party were together in this mission. He said he held Congress president Sonia Gandhi, her family members and the Congress party in highest esteem.

Last week, the Samajwadi Party’s move to offer Sanjay Dutt the party ticket from the prestigious Lucknow Lok Sabha constituency ignited a political and family controversy.

The Mumbai unit of the Congress has softened its aggressive approach over Dutt’s plans to join politics. City party chief Kripa Shankar Singh Friday morning expressed his party’s preparedness to offer Dutt a nomination if he was willing to fight as a Congress candidate.

On its part, the Samajwadi Party was also toying with the idea of pitting its Maharashtra unit chief, Abu Asim Azmi, against Priya Dutt.

Considered a strategic move, Azmi’s candidature could effectively eat into the substantial north-Indian and Muslim electorate that makes up the constituency, prevent Dutt from campaigning for his sister and also prevent his family members from building pressure on him to quit the Samajwadi Party.

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