Sanjay Dutt charms Lucknow, promises ‘Gandhigiri’ (Roundup)

January 17th, 2009 - 11:18 pm ICT by IANS  

Bahujan Samaj PartyLucknow, Jan 17 (IANS) Bollywood actor Sanjay Dutt Saturday charmed Lucknow - from where he intends to contest Lok Sabha elections - as he went on a political road show for the first time, promising people to live up to him screen image of Munnabhai with ‘Gandhigiri’ and ‘jadu ki jhappi’.Dutt took Lucknow by storm as he drove through the streets of the Uttar Pradesh capital, acknowledging the greetings of thousands who waited to cheer him.

Attired in a white khadi kurta-pyjama with a green muffler, a bearded Dutt was flanked by his wife Manyata, well known filmstars-turned Samajwai Party MPs Jaya Prada and Jaya Bachchan, popular Bhojpuri star singer Manoj Tiwari and the party top brass including chief Mulayam Singh Yadav and general secretary Amar Singh.

He won over the crowds by repeatedly referring to “Gandhigiri” - an unusual take on practising Mahatma Gandhi’s ideals of truth and non-violence as depicted in the box office blockbuster “Lage Raho Munnabhai” - and said he would give “jadu ki jhappi” to the people of the constituency - referring to the term made popular by his mega hit “Munnabhai M.B.B.S.”.

Amar Singh last week announced Sanjay Dutt’s name as the party candidate from Lucknow, the prestigious constituency currently represented by former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee. Dutt clarified Vajpayee was “like a father” to him and he would withdraw if the veteran leader was in the fray in the elections to be held by May.

And he would not mind stretching his Gandhigiri even across to the party’s main rival - the ruling Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP).

“I will offer flowers to Mayawati,” he quipped when asked how he proposed to handle his key opponent. “You will see my Gandhigiri in real life now,” he told a crowded press conference here at the end of his four-hour road-show.

Asked to comment about who would play his “circuit”, the right-hand man to the character of Munnabhai, pat came the reply from Jaya Bachchan: “All of us”.

Dutt was not unnerved by the high-profile poll campaign being undertaken by BSP nominee Akhilesh Das, who is now likely to get a run for all his money that was pumped in to make the Lucknow contest among the most expensive in the country.

A party hopper, Das, whose virtual admission of defeat was writ large in his desperation to get a Rajya Sabha berth, which he eventually managed as a safeguard. Das’ campaign was started months ago, almost immediately after he switched loyalties from the Congress party, where he even enjoyed a minister-of-state’s position in the Manmohan Singh government.

Sure enough, Dutt’s entry on the Lucknow scene has already sent jitters down the BSP rank and file.

The party’s discomfiture became visible in a shabby protest staged by a handful of Das supporters, who put up placards declaring, “Sanjay Dutt wapas jaao” (Go back Sanjay Dutt).

Earlier, an anonymous hoarding replaced one of Das’s campaign hoardings, showing an AK- 47 rifle and captioned, “Lucknow does not want AK-47″, in an indirect attack on Dutt, who continues to remain convicted under the Arms Act for possession of an AK-47 ahead of the 1993 Mumbai terror attacks.

Dut as well as his political mentors - Yadav and Amar Singh - see no reason why his conviction would come in his way to contest the poll.

Cricketer-turned-BJP MP Navjot Singh Sidhu, who had been allowed last year to contest even after being convicted of culpable homicide, had called up Sanjay yesterday only to reassure him that his conviction under the relatively much milder provisions of the Arms Act could not come in his way of contesting the polls, Amar Singh said.

“It is a matter of shame that someone like BSP MLA Shekhar Tiwari who brutally lynched an engineer to death (last month), is not called a terrorist, but Sanjay Dutt was still being labelled by some people as a terrorist when the courts too had decided to absolve him of that false and baseless charge,” he added.

Amar Singh also praised the contribution Sanjay Dutt’s father, the actor-turned-Congress MP and central minister, late Sunil Dutt.

Sanjay Dutt also emphasised: “I am going to follow the footsteps of my father. I have the blood of Nargis and Sunil Dutt running in my veins, so I will always observe the ideals laid down by them.”

When a scribe sought to know how much time he would spend in Lucknow if he were elected, he said: “As much as my father spent in his constituency.”

Amar Singh then intervened: “And let me tell you that Nargis-ji had her roots in Lucknow, while Sunil Dutt got his first public felicitation in this city’s Aminabad.”

He added, “The Samajwadi party is not doing any favour to Sanjay Dutt by offering him the Lucknow Lok Sabha ticket; in fact, we are grateful to him for having accepted our offer.”

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