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Has Munnabhai repaid Sena debt?

When Munnabhai MBBS Sanjay Dutt turned up at father Sunil Dutt's rally in Bandra on Sunday evening, his appearance made it clear that his debt to Shiv Sena chief Bal Thackeray was paid in full.
PTI | By Sujata Anandan, Mumbai
PUBLISHED ON APR 20, 2004 03:34 AM IST

When Munnabhai MBBS Sanjay Dutt turned up at father Sunil Dutt's rally in Bandra on Sunday evening, his appearance made it clear that his debt to Shiv Sena chief Bal Thackeray was paid in full.

In the 20 years that his father has been contesting polls, Sanjay has never canvassed for Dutt Sr. Even Sunday's appearance was more to entertain the crowds with Munnabhai dialogues than to make any political speeches. But it made a point.

Neither father nor son would want to mention it, but close supporters now believe that Thackeray's support to the Dutts during Sanjay's incarceration in a Tada case several years ago has been fully repaid. Dutt Sr. had refused to contest the Mumbai North-West seat in 1996 and 1998 despite being offered a Congress ticket, thus helping the Sena to a victory both times.

In fact, this time, reports say that Thackeray had summoned Sanjay at the start of the campaign and asked him to campaign for Sena candidate Sanjay Nirupam who is pitted against Dutt Sr. Sanjay declined saying that he was a busy actor and had never even campaigned for his father.

But it was only a matter of time before Sanjay put in an appearance for his father. And it is this father-son tie that is now being emphasised by the Dutts. "My father has done everything for me, in my good times and bad. So why should I not put in an appearance at his rally?" says Sanjay.

"Can my son not come to see me? Is there something wrong about that? He surprised me because I did not call him. But he is my son, after all," says Sunil.

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