Sanjay Dutt to join ANC at Durban rally
Film actor turned politician Sanjay Dutt may still be finding his feet in politics back home, but in South Africa the Munnabhai star is being billed a "comrade" and he will be sharing a platform with top African National Congress (ANC) officials in Durban on Sunday.
Dutt, who has been at the centre of much controversy in India of late for his decision to join the Samajwadi Party that is in opposition to the Congress Party that his late father Sunil Dutt represented, is expected to make a fleeting visit to this coastal city, joining ANC president Jacob Zuma at an election rally in the huge Indian township of Chatsworth.
South Africa is heading for what observers say will be its most hotly contested elections yet since the first democratic votes were cast in 1994, as the ruling ANC will on April 22 also be fighting a party started by some of it former leaders, the Congress of the People (COPE).
The first hint of Dutt's support for the ANC came in a radio commercial flighted by the ANC which says:
"Greetings, my name is Zweli Mkhize and I'm the provincial chairperson of the ANC in KwaZulu Natal. I want to take this opportunity to invite all members of the public to a mass rally with our president Jacob Zuma at the Chatsworth Stadium on Sunday, March 1, at 9 am.
"This will be one of the few occasions that people of Durban will have a chance to listen to Comrade Zuma as we prepare to go into elections. An added surprise will be the inclusion of Bollywood superstar Sanjay Dutt on the programme.
"Sanjay is currently visiting South Africa and has given his full support to the ANC. Come and listen to Comrade Jacob Zuma and Comrade Sanjay Dutt live at the Chatsworth Stadium this on Sunday at 9 am. You are all welcome see you there!"
Dutt's appearance will probably lure thousands of Indian to the stadium as Bollywood stars have a huge following here.
The move has been seen as a strategic one by analysts in Durban as parties across the spectrum have in recent weeks been using various ways of attracting the vote of the local Indian community in the province where 75 per cent of the 1.2 million South African Indians reside.
An informed source told IANS that Dutt would also visit the Mahatma Gandhi Settlement at Phoenix, where the community centre and school started by then young lawyer Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi during his tenure in Durban at the turn of the last century are still being run on Friday.