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Congress gets its quota of stars

By Our Special Correspondent



Bollywood stars Asrani, Sharad Kapoor, Namrata Shirodkar, Zeenat Aman and Celina Jaitley at the AICC headquarters in New Delhi on Friday after they announced their decision to campaign for the Congress in the coming Lok Sabha elections. - PTI

NEW DELHI, MARCH 5. The Congress today produced a blockbuster. After a long gap, the party paraded a clutch of Bollywood film stars as an answer to the phenomenon of movie stars joining its political rival, the Bharatiya Janata Party.

Not content with the ones and twos, the Congress brought on board five film stars — Zeenat Aman, Namrata Shirodkar, Celina Jaitely, comedian Asrani and the young actor, Sharad Kapoor. They have said that they will be campaigning for the party.

The party also introduced the heroine of the 1980s, Moushmi Chatterjee, and announced her formal admission into the Congress. A host of Congress leaders, including the general secretary, Kamal Nath, its spokesperson, Anand Sharma, the MP, T. Subbirami Reddy, who made it all possible, were at hand to welcome the stars. The two events were held in succession — one for those who offered their support for the party and the other for the one who joined the ranks.

Ms. Chatterjee, daughter-in-law of the well-known singer, Hemant Kumar, and heroine of several Hindi films, said that she was joining the Congress because of its ideology and secular outlook. She also expressed her willingness to contest from any constituency.

Mr. Asrani tried out his lines in an impromptu act at the press conference, starting with an adaptation of dialogue from the Hindi superhit `Sholay' in which he portrayed the role of a bumbling jailor. Then in his imitable style he went on to ridicule the "India Shining" campaign. Without naming the BJP, he asked how someone could appropriate all that had happened for the last 45 years.

"Is India shining only now during the past five years ... they have taken away the (Congress) pot and started shining it or shining the shoes made by the Congress.'' Ending in the same vein, he made another adaptation from the `Sholay' dialogue saying that people would not change their habit and would remain with the Congress.

Ms. Zeenat Aman said she believed in the Congress and decided to support the party since it was secular — something she was brought up on.

She said that as one born to a Brahmin mother and Muslim father she was secular in her outlook and sought to provide a similar environment to her two teenage children.

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