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Celebrities in suffrage circus

Shobha De was turned away. Bal Thackeray got his turn after eight years. And Anil Ambani took time off from minding his company?s bean counters to do his bit for democracy.
PTI | By C. Unnikrishnan/Viju B., Mumbai
UPDATED ON APR 27, 2004 03:12 PM IST

Shobha De was turned away. Bal Thackeray got his turn after eight years. And Anil Ambani took time off from minding his company’s bean counters to do his bit for democracy.

As the suffrage circus moved to Mumbai, the Election Commission’s omissions showed up. Several voters, including author De, Censor Board chief Anupam Kher, actor Kajol and adman Prahlad Kakkar found their names missing from the electoral list.

Industrialist Adi Godrej went hunting for his name in booths in Mumbai South — the country’s richest constituency.

De, who arrived at her Mumbai South booth, was surprised when she failed to spot her name in the list. “I have been voting for the last 20 years. But this has never happened. None of the six members in my family could vote,” she said.

But if you consider the big picture, it was a smooth, and stellar, affair. Aamir Khan came to vote dressed as mutineer Mangal Pandey. Actor Sanjay Dutt arrived straight from a Jaisalmer shoot to exercise  his franchise. Yash Chopra flew down from Manali to vote but Karisma Kapoor, also away on a shoot, wasn’t bothered by matters electoral.

The cricket celebrities included Sachin Tendulkar, accompanied by wife Anjali, and former Indian captain Ajit Wadekar.

India’s first business family was well represented by Mukesh and Anil Ambani, their mother Kokila Ambani and Anil’s wife Tina.

As for Thackeray, he was finally able to vote after eight long years. The EC had barred him for “indulging in corrupt practice by seeking votes in the name of religion”.

There was one person on the voters’ list who did not do his democratic duty — the candidate from Mumbai South Central, Arun Gawli. Despite an EC offer to provide him an escort, the bhai remained in his fortress, Dagdi Chawl, and hoped others would perform theirs.

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