A popular actress, a veteran actor turned Congressman, and two controversial television personalities are expected to spice up election contests across Maharashtra this month.
Marathi film actor Deepali Sayyad is the Shiv Sena’s candidate in Mumbra-Kalwa, which is the stronghold of NCP’s Jitendra Awhad. Sayyad, who joined the Sena last week, had unsuccessfully contested the 2014 Lok Sabha elections on an Aam Aadmi Party ticket. She has already hit the roads to meet voters in the constituency. The actor is best known for her role in the film ‘Jatra’.
Another aspirant for Mumbra-Kalwa seat was actor Ajaz Khan, a former ‘Bigg Boss’ contestant, who later settled to contest from Byculla seat as an independent candidate.
Khan had made headlines in July when he was arrested for allegedly making communally sensitive remarks in a video supporting a group of social media stars, who were booked for speaking out against the lynching of Tabrez Ansari in Jharkhand.
The actor had spent several months publicly pleading with All India Majlis-e-Ittehad-ul-Muslimeen (AIMIM) president Asaduddin Owaisi to pick him as the party’s candidate in Mumbra-Kalwa, a suburb of Thane city with a majority of Muslim population. However when the party gave the ticket from the seat to Barkatullah Shaikh, Khan posted a series of videos on his Facebook page over the past one week accusing Owaisi of reneging on his promise, nominating a weak candidate and failing to serve Muslims in India in any way.
Khan has also accused the AIMIM of running a “smear campaign” against him, and calling him a drug addict. In December last year, Khan was arrested by the police in Navi Mumbai for allegedly being in possession of party drug, Ecstasy. In 2016, Khan was also arrested for allegedly sending lewd messages to a beautician.
However, Khan claims to have given up his drug habit to serve the Muslim community. “Do you know anyone else who has gone to jail four times for the sake of Muslims? I am a social activist who has always worked and will continue to work,” he said in a recent video.
Khan has prepared for his campaign in Byculla with another video, posted on social media last week, in which he accused sitting AIMIM MLA Waris Pathan of failing to make any impact in his five-year term.
At the other end of Mumbai, former Congress MLA and actor Baldev Khosa is preparing for a fresh campaign in the coastal constituency of Versova which he had lost to BJP’s Bharti Lavekar in 2014. Khosa, 75, had joined the party in 1980s along with actor and former MP Sunil Dutt. A star of Punjabi films in the 1960s and 1970s, Khosa also starred in several Hindi films before he joined politics.
In Worli, Abhijeet Bichukale is part of the 20 candidates headlined by Yuva Sena chief Aaditya Thackeray. Bichukale, who is contesting as an independent candidate, gained notoriety in June when he was arrested by the Satara Police at ‘the Bigg Boss Marathi’ house for allegedly issuing a bounced cheque. He is also simultaneously contesting the Lok Sabha bypoll from Satara against Udayanraje Bhosale.