Updated: June 17, 2020 11:44:25 am
In his first remarks about the political controversy around his Ghar Bhejo project, Bollywood actor Sonu Sood said he has no differences with the Shiv Sena or its leadership, has no political ambitions, does not wish to campaign for any party, and is focussed on his acting career.
“I am not going to campaign for BJP or any other party either in Mumbai MC polls or any other ones. Earlier also there have been many such offers but I am not doing it. Mostly when actors campaign for a party, it’s not like they always support them, it is just a kind of an appearance they make,” Sood, who is from Punjab’s Moga district, told The Indian Express.
Asked if he would be joining BJP or any other party, he said, “These speculations are not at all true. I am not joining politics or any political party. I was a qualified engineer but became an actor. That’s what my focus is”.
Sood acknowledged that he is a fan of PM Narendra Modi. “I like the way he connects with common people. He is an inspiration. I look up to him but that doesn’t mean I am joining BJP,” he said.
Sood also revealed that he had declined offers to join politics in his home state Punjab. “In Punjab, I know all (politicians) very well such as Captain (Amarinder Singh). Not recently, but I was asked by both Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) and Congress if I was keen on contesting polls in Punjab or doing any political activity for them. But I said no …it ended there,” he said.
Sood said “all that matters is the smile on faces of migrants” when he helps them reach home. “My only motive is ‘koi paidal nahi chalega (no one will walk on highways)’. Those children can’t walk thousands and thousands of kilometres to reach UP, Bihar,” he said.
The actor said ‘Ghar Bhejo’ project was his own effort with friend Neeti Goyal. As they arranged transport and permissions, many more people joined in. He said that they did this by talking to officials at different levels on their own and soon learnt how procedures worked.
Sood said that had he belonged to any one party, things wouldn’t have moved at all. “I worked with officials of all states, from UP to Bihar, J&K to Tamil Nadu, Jharkhand to Odisha and Kerala. We have governments of different parties in each state and I worked with all of them. My only motive was to help migrants reach home. Now I have numbers of DCPs, ADMs, DMs even from small districts of different states. I call them personally and follow-up our proposals. Once it is cleared, migrants travel home. It hardly matters what people accuse me of,” he said.
On Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut’s criticism of him in Saamana, that he is working for BJP, Sood said, “I wasn’t even aware of the whole controversy. People started calling me and soon my very good friend, Aslam Sheikh from Congress (minister) also called and asked if I would like clarify anything on this, if I would like to meet Uddhav Thackeray and Aaditya once. So I agreed to meet them.”
“What Raut wrote was not true. The Thackerays also knew that it wasn’t right. They have known me since long. The conclusion of the entire meeting was that we all were on the same page to help migrants. They also appreciated my work and offered every kind of help. An individual (Raut) made a perception of me and wrote about it,” said Sood. “I can’t do anything in Maharashtra without the support of the state government. If I apply for a train, bus — it has to be through the state government,” he said.
“I nowhere said that the Shiv Sena government in Maharashtra hasn’t done anything. They have done tremendous work, Mumbai is not an easy city to handle. This was my way of helping migrants. On the very first day I got more than 50,000 requests from people who wanted to go home. I realized how big this problem was when I started interacting with people walking on highways. I told Uddhav and Aaditya also that I wanted to help them and just followed my instinct,” he said.
On his meeting with Maharashtra Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari, Sood said, “He (Maharashtra Governor) just wanted to thank me and it isn’t just Maharashtra Governor, I got congratulatory calls from Governor of Punjab, CM of Punjab and likewise from Uttarakhand, Assam, Jharkhand and many other states. Many of them called me or congratulated me on social media. But when I met the Maharashtra Governor, the whole thing was blown out of proportion. For that matter, Priyanka Gandhi was the first to call me and congratulate.”
Sood said until now, Ghar Bhejo initiative had sent home 30,000 people. He said he had received financial help too from friends.
“Someone offers to sponsor one bus, another offers two… someone offers water, food for migrants.. It is all teamwork now. I cannot say who was right or wrong, who failed where and how, but if things were planned in advance, the suffering of migrants would have been reduced. Maybe people would have faced less troubles in reaching home,” he said.
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