"I'll follow in father's footsteps"

Lucknow, Feb 18 (IANS) Sanjay Dutt, the Bollywood star who will be the Samajwadi Party candidate from Lucknow in the upcoming Lok Sabha polls, Wednesday said he would follow in his late father Sunil Dutt's footsteps to serve the masses.

"My father was not a politician. He was a social worker and did his best to work for people's welfare. I will follow the same path," Sanjay, clad in a politician's trademark white kurta-pyjama, said at a press conference convened in the Taj hotel here.

He said as he comes from a family that is known for serious commitment, he would fulfil his promise to serve the residents of Lucknow in the best way he could.

Asked what his poll plank would be, the Bollywood star said he would practice 'Gandhigiri' - the non-violent way of life preached by "Munnabhai", a popular character he has played in films - to win the hearts of voters.

"Ensuring peace will be a very important factor for me," said Sanjay, who was flanked by his wife Manyata, Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh and party general secretary Amar Singh.

Asked why he thought of visiting his father's home in Lucknow ofter 45 years, the actor replied: "I always wanted to come here and meet the family with whom my father lived while he worked with the All India Radio (AIR), but could not get time.

"Now, I am quite happy as I finally met the family which shared memorable moments with my father." Like Sanjay, his father Sunil Dutt was also an actor but was a staunch Congress member.

Sanjay kicked off his poll campaign here with hundreds of his fans thronging the city streets to catch a glimpse of the man they call "Munnabhai". His trip was aimed at formulating strategy for the upcoming April-May Lok Sabha polls.

Accompanied by Manyata and Amar Singh, Sanjay straightaway went to meet Captain Rizvi's family in the Jopling Road locality with whom his father Sunil Dutt stayed while he worked as an anchor with the All India Radio (AIR).

Sunil Dutt lived with the family of Captain Rizvi in the narrow Ganne Wali lane in Aminabad for nearly four years till 1951. However, owing to security reasons Sanjay was not allowed to enter the lane.

Sanjay and Manyata were showered with red rose petals while they met the captain's family at Jopling Road. Calling Manyata its daughter-in-law, the family also gave 'muh dikhayee', a post-marriage ritual in Hindu families where money is gifted to the bride after seeing her face.

"I am quite happy to visit the family with whom my father cherished some memorable moments," Sanjay told reporters.

With the family members, he also went through some black and white photographs of his father.

After meeting the family, Sanjay along with his wife and Amar Singh headed for the Samajwadi Party office on Vikramaditya Marg.

Sanjay is popularly called "Munnabhai" after a character he played in a film. Though convicted for arms possession in the 1993 Mumbai blasts, he has been picked by the Samajwadi Party as its candidate from Lucknow.

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