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Sanjay Dutt to contest elections on Samajwadi Party ticket

MUMBAI (Reuters) - Bollywood actor Sanjay Dutt, convicted in connection with India’s worst-ever bombing in 1993, on Friday said he would contest the upcoming Lok Sabha elections on a Samajwadi Party ticket.

Bollywood actor Sanjay Dutt arrives at his residence in Mumbai in this August 23, 2007 file photo. REUTERS/Arko Datta/Files

The Samajwadi Party, a key ally of the ruling Congress, had announced last week the actor would be fielded from Lucknow. Dutt, who was in Kashmir for a film shoot, did not make any comment.

But on Friday night, with Samajwadi Party general secretary Amar Singh by his side, the 49-year-old actor told reporters in Mumbai he was honoured to have been chosen as the party’s candidate.

“I am not a politician but I belong to a political family,” Dutt said adding that he could not ignore the wish of a person he considered his elder brother.

“Amar Singh told me I should serve the people and he found I was capable of doing that and I was honoured when he told me that,” he added.

The beefy action hero was convicted in 2007 for taking an AK-56 rifle and a pistol from gangsters linked to the 1993 bombings in Mumbai in which 257 people were killed.

Dutt, who was sentenced to six years in prison, challenged the conviction and is currently out on bail.

The actor is best known for his turn in “Lage Raho Munnabhai,” a comedy about a gangster espousing Gandhian values that was adjudged the best popular film at the National Film Awards for 2006.

Political parties have often fielded Bollywood actors in elections, hoping to cash in on their popular appeal.

Singh said on Friday that Dutt will not sacrifice his Bollywood career for the sake of politics.

“He’ll keep a balance between politics and films. Politics will be like overtime for him,” he said.

Dutt is the son of actor and former Congress minister Sunil Dutt. His sister Priya is a Lok Sabha lawmaker who won from the seat which fell vacant after their father’s death.

Their mother, Nargis, had also been a nominated member of the Rajya Sabha.

Media reports said Dutt’s sister Priya, a Congress lawmaker, was not happy with his decision to contest elections on a Samajwadi Party ticket.

But Dutt denied rumours of a rift in the family.

“I am the oldest in the family and I make my own decisions. My family will definitely support me.”