Bollywood’s A-listers boycott election campaigns

After Sanjay Dutt’s humbling ouster from the elections getting A-list stars to campaign for political parties or individual candidates is going to be very tough. They’ve discreetly decided to show their solidarity for Sanju Baba by staying away from campaigning. A very close friend of the popular actor says on condition of anonymity, “There’s a sense of dismay about Baba’s ouster from the elections. All of us had become political animals for this season because of our support for him. But with him no longer eligible for candidacy, we feel campaigning for others would be morally and ethically wrong. Yaar, dil nahin karta.” Many A-listers who planned to pitch in their might with the Dutt are now planning impromptu holidays in April with their families or persuading their producers to arrange long schedules far away from the country to beat the simmering summer heat and the discontent of the elections post the Dutt factor. At least 7 major stars confessed to me on Wednesday morning that they would have happily campaigned for Sanjay Dutt or even for other candidates if Dutt had been in the fray. “But without him, the spirit of solidarity has vanished .Why should we campaign for anyone when Baba is out?” says a colleague and co-star of Dutt. Madhur Bhandarkar echoes the rest of the industry’s feeling of dejection on Dutt’s ouster. “I’m out of Mumbai in Karjat for the whole of April shooting.
Would I campaign for someone now? Doubtful. Unless it’s someone I believe can take the country forward. And at the moment I don’t see anyone whom I believe in.” Govinda has offered to campaign for his Congress colleagues. But in the same breath he says, “My services are optional. My heart has to say the candidate is right. What happened with Sanju is tragic destiny. We can’t fight it. But we can stop and think about it.” Irrfan Khan says very clearly that it would take a lot of persuasion for him to campaign for anyone. “I need to be convinced of a candidate’s intentions.” But it’s the unstoppable Shatrughan Sinha who bells the cat. On the way to Jammu on Wednesday morning to campaign for his party (the BJP) Shatrughan Sinha didn’t mince words. “It’s true that getting stars to campaign this election won’t be that easy. We of the film industry talk about solidarity and brotherhood. But we’re a house divided. I don’t know how many people would have come forward to actually campaign for their Sanju Baba. But at the moment getting stars to campaign has become really tough.
That puts a greater burden on me. I don’t only have to look out for my own candidacy in Patna but I also have to be the so-called star attraction for my party and campaign for other candidates.” As for Sanjay’s inability to contest elections, Sinha says, “It’s the law of land telling him not to contest elections. We’ve to respect that. Humein banana republic nahin humein republic banana hai.” Sinha advises restrain for all potential election candidates including the Samajwadi Party which has apparently suggested a Congress conspiracy against Sanjay Dutt. “This kind of talk is only going to antagonize the Centre and won’t help anyone.” Commenting on party member Varun Gandhi’s inflammatory anti-Muslim speech and subsequent incarceration Shatrughan Sinha says, “I’ve decided not to make any comments on the matter. Having said this, I’d like to say decorum and restrain in your public speeches is a hallmark of a successful politician. You’ve to preach and practice transparency and decency in your public speeches. You’ve to make sure you don’t hurt the sentiments of any section of the people.” The voluble and entertaining talker comments, “I am identified with a Hindu party. But I’ve never said or done anything to create a feeling of mistrust among Muslims. In fact I’ve been repeatedly invited to Pakistan as their state guest even after being inducted in the BJP. And my biggest victory in politics is when Muslims say they trust me. In fact I’m about to attend a huge Muslim convention in Patna at the Anjuman Islamiya Hall. I feel I’m more a people’s person than a politician.”

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