Sanjay Dutt to be Samajwadi candidate from Lucknow (Lead)

January 8th, 2009 - 7:22 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Jan 8 (IANS) Sanjay Dutt Thursday became the latest Bollywood actor to dabble in politics with the Samajwadi Party announcing that he would be its candidate from the Lucknow Lok Sabha constituency.The “Munnabhai” of Bollywood, who has led a chequered life more dramatic than some of his films and was convicted for possessing illegal firearms ahead of the 1993 serial blasts in Mumbai, will contest the next general elections from the constituency currently represented in the Lok Sabha by former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee.

Samajwadi Party general secretary Amar Singh, who announced Dutt’s name at a press conference, said he hoped that the Congress, with which the party is negotiating a pre-poll alliance in Uttar Pradesh, would support the actor’s candidature wholeheartedly.

“The Dutt family has old family ties with the Congress and the party would be with him,” Amar Singh said, suggesting that he is a common candidate of both the parties.

Dutt, who is out on bail and whose petition challenging his Arms Act conviction is pending in the Supreme Court, follows his parents into politics like he did when he became an actor.

His mother, the legendary Nargis Dutt, was a Rajya Sabha MP, and his actor-father Sunil Dutt was a Congress Lok Sabha MP and also a minister. Younger sister Priya Dutt is Congress MP from South Mumbai.

In reply to a question, Amar Singh said the party would move the Election Commission or the Supreme Court if Dutt was disallowed from contesting the elections because of the criminal cases against him.

“Still, if he can’t contest, he will be our party’s star campaigner,” he said.

“How can he be termed a criminal when even the United Nations has made him its ambassador for its malnutrition programme?” the Samajwadi Party leader asked.

“It is because of Sanjay Dutt’s Munnabhai film series that Mahatma Gandhi’s name became popular among the young generation.”

Asked if the actor was willing to enter politics, he said: “Dutt told me you are like my elder brother. He said he would do anything I ask him to though he said he is not a political person.”

The Samajwadi Party also released the names of its candidates for 26 other constituencies.

The prominent faces include Bhojpuri film star Manoj Tiwari from Gorakhpur, Jayaprada from Rampur, party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav from Mainpuri, his son Akhilesh Pratap Singh from Kannauj and Firozabad and his cousin Dharmendra Yadav from Badayun.

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