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Hema gets taste of controversies

The BJP leader asks north Indians to return if they are unhappy, reports Sweta Ramanujan-Dixit.

india Updated: Jan 25, 2007 22:04 IST

Actor and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Hema Malini has landed herself in her first political controversy and put her party in an embarrassing position barely a week ahead of the crucial civic polls.

The Rajya Sabha member has evoked the wrath of north Indians after she said that if north Indians were unhappy with the way they are being treated they should go back. Malini made the statement when she was campaigning in the city for the February 1 polls and was asked for a comment on the north Indian community’s complaints that they were not being treated well.

North Indians form a significant chunk of Mumbai’s population and are bound to play an important role in the elections to the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation. The BJP has, in fact, fielded 16 north Indian candidates for the elections in a bid to appease the community.

According to the party, Malini’s statement was harmless. "I think she said it in a lighter vein and did not mean anything serious. It should not be taken politically," BJP General Secretary Vinod Tawde, said. "And the BJP’s policies do not depended on such statements."

However, Sanjay Nirupam, a Congressman and a north Indian himself, demanded that Malini retract her statement and apologise to the community. "First, I believe that she is an actor and has a limited understanding of politics. So she probably does not understand the implications of her statement. But if she made that statement knowingly, it is very dangerous," the former Shiv Sainik stated.

First Published: Jan 25, 2007 22:04 IST