Mallika Sarabhai to contest against Advani

Danseuse Mallika Sarabhai addresses the media in Ahmedabad on Thursday.   | Photo Credit: — Photo: AFP

Manas Dasgupta

AHMEDABAD: The noted dancer, Mallika Sarabhai, daughter of the famous space scientist, Vikram Sarabhai, has decided to join the poll arena to challenge the Bharatiya Janata Party prime ministerial candidate, L. K. Advani, in Gujarat’s Capital city constituency of Gandhinagar.

Ms. Sarabhai, who had also acted in several Hindi and Gujarati films, said she would contest as an Independent and would not accept the ticket of any political party.

Secular parties ‘welcome’

“But any party believing in secularist ideologies and supremacy of the common man will be welcomed to extend support to me from outside,” she said.

The question was raised because of the reported move by the Congress to put her up as the party candidate against Mr. Advani. The Congress is still on the lookout for a suitable candidate to challenge Mr. Advani in Gandhinagar but has so far not zeroed on any.

Ms. Sarabhai, however, said, she would not contest on the Congress symbol and would prefer to remain independent. She said many of her well-wishers and supporters had set up “Friends of Democracy,” to prop up her candidature and she would stick to it.

Differences with Modi

The noted dancer had developed differences with the Gujarat Chief Minister, Narendra Modi, ever since the 2002 communal riots in the State and had joined hands with many voluntary organisations and others opposed to Mr. Modi’s style of functioning. Some attempts were also made in the past to harass her by lodging some fictitious police complaints against her which her supporters claimed was done at the behest of the Modi administration. She, however, was acquitted by the court.

Ms. Sarabhai said the main reason for her joining the fray was to register her strong protest against “criminalisation of politics” and reducing the common man to the level of a non-entity.

The present political parties had made “democracy for politicians, by politicians, of politicians” and “not for the people, by the people, of the people.”

“The people have been reduced to absolutely nothing,” she said.

“I’ll fight to win”

She said it did not matter that she was fighting against a political heavyweight. “I will fight to win but I am not bothered about the outcome,” she said.