Actor Sanjay Dutt capped his whirlwind entry into politics with a declaration that he will not be contesting from Lucknow against former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee should the BJP veteran choose to throw his hat into the ring.
Flanked by the Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav,Amar Singh,Jaya Bachchan and Jayaprada,Dutt declared at a media conference: I will not contest the election from Lucknow against Atalji. I am too small a person to contest against a father figure like Atal Bihari Vajpayee. Asked whether his wife Manyata will contest in his stead,he said, it is not for me to decide who will replace me,it will be decided by the Samajwadi Party and party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav.
Vajpayee is the sitting MP from Lucknow and has won five consecutive terms since the 1991 Lok Sabha polls. On his first visit to Lucknow since his name was floated for the seat and his subsequent acceptance,Dutt was liberally assisted by SP general secretary Amar Singh at the media conference,with Singh attempting to answer most questions addressed to Dutt. He sought to evade the question of Vajpayee contesting,saying,it is a hypothetical question whether Atalji will contest the polls from Lucknow as the BJP was also considering the candidature of Shatrughan Sinha from Lucknow”. Dutt welcomed AICC general secretary Digvijay Singh’s statement that his detention under TADA was wrong. “I appreciate the fact that after 17 years,a senior Congress leader has made this admission. This would have pleased my father had he been alive today.
Declaring that Gandhigiri’ will be his poll plank,Dutt,on being asked for a reaction to chief minister Mayawati’s style of functioning,said he would present lots of flowers to the UP chief minister.
Putting on record his appreciation for Amar Singh,he said: I never felt alone after my fathers death as Amar Singh was always there and I can never forget his help during the hours of crisis. It was Singh,Dutt said,who had suggested that he contest the polls from Lucknow and take forward the legacy of Sunil Dutt and Nargis. Amar Singh is my elder brother and I could not say no to him, he said.