Sanjay Dutt says he will actively campaign for her as it is “his seat”
LUCKNOW: Social activist Nafisa Ali will be the Samajwadi Party candidate from Lucknow, which goes to the polls in the third phase of the Lok Sabha elections on April 30. The surprise announcement was made by SP National general secretary and actor, Sanjay Dutt here on Sunday after a short introduction of the candidate by senior party leader Amar Singh.
Considered close to UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi, Ms. Ali was the chairman of the Children’s Film Society of India with the status of Minister of State and left the Congress to take up her assignment. Her candidature was finalised on Saturday. Ms. Ali’s name was suggested to Mr. Dutt by his wife, Manyata. Mr. Dutt told reporters at the Samajwadi Party headquarters here that the suggestion was readily accepted by party president Mulayam Singh and Mr. Amar Singh.
He added that he would actively campaign for Ms. Ali as Lucknow was “his seat.” Before getting the Samajwadi Party nomination, Ms. Ali is said to have been approached by the Congress to contest from Lucknow.
Describing Lucknow as the “capital” of the “Hindi belt,” or “cow belt,” the SP candidate stated that she had a long association with the city.
Ms. Ali, who found it difficult to interact in Hindi, said she would fight against communal agenda and lauded Mr. Mulayam Singh for saving the Babri Masjid. Pointing an accusing finger at the former Chief Minister, Kalyan Singh, Ms. Ali remarked: “Look what he did [to the mosque].” When asked whether she would like the former BJP leader to campaign for her, Ms. Ali replied: “There has been some misunderstanding. Mr. Kalyan Singh is an Independent candidate and not a member of the SP. Everybody deserves a second chance to remove his clouded vision.”
Ms. Ali said she had the highest regard for Ms. Gandhi and the Congress was safe under her leadership, but there were certain elements which worked against the party’s interests.
When her attention was drawn to the possibility of the Congress not entering the fray in Lucknow, she said it would be in the interest of the Congress that it does not field its candidate against her.
Whereas the Congress was dubbed as a “no hoper” in Uttar Pradesh, the SP was termed by her as a secular democratic party which was part of the immediate history of India. Ms. Ali said she was a destiny’s child and vowed to work for the unity and integrity of the country and bring the youth closer to education, spiritual awareness, religious tolerance and the will to fight communal agenda.
Without going into the reasons for leaving the Congress, Ms. Ali, who is married to a Sikh, said she was pained when Jagdish Tytler and Sajjan Kumar were given Congress tickets.
Following the line taken by Mulayam Singh, Lalu Prasad and Ram Vilas Paswan, she added there was no problem if a “proven, tested, progressive Prime Minister like Manmohan Singh again becomes the Prime Minister.”
Mr. Amar Singh appealed to the Congress to support Ms. Ali’s candidature from Lucknow.