BJP poll road show - Jeetendra denies, Suresh Oberoi confirms

MUMBAI: Clearly, BJP is playing the film-n-telly celebrity card to the hilt. Every day there is a new announcement of this star or that starlet climbing aboard the BJP poll cart. But as was the case last time round during the assembly elections, except some hasty announcements that turn out to be just that. Announcements.

One such was Balaji Telefilms chairman and yesteryears' daddy of the dance floor Jeetendra Kapoor. Reports last evening that Jeetendra would be among the ever-expanding list of celebrities, who would be part of the BJP poll road show, have been emphatically denied by a clearly flustered chairman of India's leading production powerhouse.

Responding to the media reports that he had joined the BJP after a meeting with Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee in New Delhi, he told this afternoon, "I am close to Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Venkaiah Naidu (BJP party president). But please, I am not into politics."

When asked whether he would at least be canvassing for the BJP, a rather ruffled Jeetendra replied, "I am supporting everybody."

In the past, the actor has campaigned for individuals like former Madhya Pradesh chief minister Digvijay Singh and Union Minister Vinod Khanna only on the basis of his friendship with them.

If Jeetendra was in denial mode, that was not the case with another industry peer Suresh Oberoi. The character actor and stop-gap host of Zee TV's Jeena Isi Ka Naam Hai told he was inducted into the party yesterday. "I have consciously gone into a hiatus since the past two years. I rejected many offers for films and television. I thought that I had worked and earned enough. I was passing my time playing golf. Then I started to feel that I must give back something worthwhile to my country. And what better mode than through the BJP? But I still waited for a while, because I wanted to see Vivek (son) settled in films. Now, I think is the time."

Why BJP? Why not any other party? "Well, I have many friends in the Congress. But I think that the BJP has achieved a lot in the past few years, what the Congress has not achieved in 50 years. I am especially impressed by the manner in which Atal Behari Vajpayee's astute leadership has brought India and Pakistan close in recent times. Today, even people of Pakistan want Vajpayee back at the helm because of this reason." he explained.

Oberoi is open to contesting for elections, anytime. "I have left the decision in the party's hands. Of course, they will ask me before making any announcement," he said.

One denial, one confirmation and one possibility. Prachee Shah (of Kyunki Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi fame) is a possible candidate for the BJP road show. The buzz is that she is joining but the actress herself is not certain whether she'll enter the political fray. Apparently, she has reservations.

She said, "The party will be taking a final decision on this tomorrow. I know Jaywantiben Mehta (minister of state for power) closely. She has graced many of my dance performances, which I have been doing to promote tourism. (Deputy PM) LK Advani had also come for one of these performances. I have also performed for the governor at Raj Bhavan. The party officials were talking to me about this. Frankly, I am still debating this issue. Even if they say yes, I am not in a position to tell you today whether I will go ahead or not."

Asked whether she thought that the party was utilising her services for political gains, Prachee quipped, "I agree it's an election stunt. But since it is for a fair cause, why not? People do relate to known faces. Those who come for my dance performances come to see me and not my dance. That's the way showbiz works, you and I can't change that."

Prachee clarified that she had absolutely no intentions of contesting for a seat since she was quite tied up with her

assignments on television (Kyunki..., Piya Ka Ghar, Urja). "I may canvass for BJP, that's all. Still, I will take the final decision tomorrow, whether to go ahead or not," she concluded.

This is unlikely to be the last we have heard on the ongoing television-politics-films circus. Ditto for denials like the one from Jeetendra and apprehensions like the one from Prachee Shah.

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