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Samajwadi Sanju shocks Priya

Samajwadi Sanju shocks Priya

Author: Bureau and Agencies
Publication: The Telegraph
Date: January 15, 2009
URL: http://www.telegraphindia.com/1090115/jsp/nation/story_10392803.jsp

For the Dutts, politics is thicker than blood.

Priya Dutt, Congress MP and sister of actor Sanjay Dutt, has expressed "shock" over her brother's association with the Samajwadi Party which wants him to be its Lok Sabha candidate from Lucknow.

"The news of his contesting elections on a Samajwadi Party ticket was a shocker for the family. We as a family have always been associated with the Congress party. My parents were committed Congress activists. I don't think Sanju's decision would have gone down well with them," said Priya, the MP from Mumbai Northwest, a seat held by her actor-father Sunil Dutt till his death and which he represented for five terms. Mother Nargis was a Rajya Sabha member nominated by the Congress.

Priya's outburst came six days after the Samajwadi Party announced Sanjay as its candidate, provided he cleared legal obstacles. The actor, who was sentenced to six years in prison under the Arms Act for his role in the 1993 Bombay blasts, has to get a stay on his conviction from the court to be eligible to contest polls.

In case of a legal hurdle, the Samajwadi Party has a backup ready: Sanjay's wife Maanyata.

Priya, who had initially been averse to commenting on her brother's proximity to the Samajwadi Party, clarified that she had not blamed anyone, including Maanyata, for her brother's decision.

"It is not in my grain to cast aspersions on anyone's personal life," PTI quoted her as saying. "I have never brought family problems in public life. I won't wash dirty linen in public."

The Samajwadi Party hit back at Priya, saying she had taken its help during her campaign. "Why treat us like an untouchable now.... In the presence of Sanjay Dutt, she (Priya Dutt) had sought our help during her election," PTI quoted its general secretary Amar Singh as saying in New Delhi.

Singh claimed he had been introduced to Sanjay by Sunil Dutt and the actor had campaigned for the party even when his father was a central minister.

"When Sunil Dutt was alive, Sanjay had campaigned for Jaya Prada in Rampur (Uttar Pradesh). Dad (Sunil Dutt) should have then asked Sanjay not to campaign," Singh said.

Sources close to the Dutt siblings said Priya and sister Namrata have been close to Sanjay's former wives, but feel Maanyata does not match up to the family's social standing.

A source said it was Maanyata who convinced her husband to have an independent standing in politics. "She was not sure how far Priya would stand by him eventually," the source said.

That's when Sanjay started warming up to Abu Azmi, the Samajwadi MP from Mumbai.

"Last May, Azmi visited his residence with Amar Singh in tow. They indicated their keenness about him. Maanyata convinced Sanju that he should agree," said a family friend who is also a Congress functionary.

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