The February-March elections in UP will have some ‘glamor ka tadka’ and raising the political heat will be popular and controversial Bollywood actor Rakhi Sawant, who wore a controversial dress last year with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s photos all over it.
Also set to campaign is actor-singer of yesteryears Salma Agha, a Pakistani born Briton who holds an Overseas Citizen of India card. Agha had starred in the 1982 hit ‘Nikaah’.
“Along with serious issues there would also be what you call ‘glamor ka tadka,” Republican Party of India (Athavale) leader and union minister for social justice and empowerment Ramdas Athavale told HT.
While Sawant and Agha have been roped in by RPI, an NDA ally, other parties are readying their star power too.
The BJP already has several actor-politicians in its midst and so has the Congress.
“Several actors are BJP members now and so will campaign for the party,” said UP BJP chief Keshav Prasad Maurya, MP from Phulpur. Congress has already appointed actor-politician Raj Babbar as the UP Congress Committee chief and plans to unleash its star power in UP in coming days. So is the plan of the ruling Samajwadi Party with the BSP being the only exception.
Athavale on Monday confirmed that Bollywood actors like Rakhi Sawant will be seen in UP polls.
“Along with talking serious issues, there would definitely be a ‘glamor ka tadka’ (a dash of glamor) in UP polls,” Athavale said. The, union minister who has himself acted in couple of films and is known for his comic timing, said as a “Modi minister” he and the actors he would get to UP won’t oppose the BJP in UP even if the alliance he was seeking between the two didn’t come through.
Accompanying the union minister during his short Lucknow visit was Salma Agha. Salma Agha said she favored Modi government’s stance on abolition of the practice of ‘triple talaq’, an issue that was raised by Modi during the BJP’s Mahoba rally in UP last November. Later, the Allahabad High Court while hearing a petition had also described this form of ‘instant divorce’ as ‘cruel and most demeaning’.
“I won’t comment on other issues but as far as triple talaq goes, I guess it is a welcome initiative as there are a lot of Muslim women who have been exploited because of this,” Salma said.
Muslims comprise about 18 per cent of UP’s electorate and have key presence to influence the outcome of more than 150 seats. They are considered loyal to largely the ruling Samajwadi Party though over the last 23 years since Congress went out of power in UP, they are split between the SP and the BSP.
Salma praised Modi’s initiative on ‘triple talaq’ and would be seen campaigning in Muslim dominated localities to drum up support for RPI and the BJP. The RSS-backed Muslim Rashtriya Manch is also scheduled to hold a convention to create awareness among the Muslims on the need to end triple talaq.
“Triple talaq deprives Muslim women of their rights and dignity,” said Mahirajdhwaj Singh, an RSS whole timer associated with MRM. The Manch, he said, had already got signatures of over 10,000 people against triple talaq among women.
In UP, MRM plans to hold conventions in over 30 districts on the issue and in fact has already held some in a few districts like Agra, Rampur, Unnao and Jalaun.
“Islam talks of securing rights of everyone and hence triple talaq can’t be justified,” said the RSS leader. He also said that through meetings like the one in Lucknow the MRM volunteers would attempt to clear myths associated with the Sangh.