Bollywood stars in patriotic role - please come out to vote

Mumbai, April 30 (IANS) From Aamir Khan to Anil Ambani, India's biggest celebrities Thursday came out in droves from their airconditioned homes to wait in queue patiently for their turn to vote -- and urge the young to step out and exercise their franchise in the third round of the staggered elections.

In the great equaliser that are the elections, the stars of the silver screen and the celebrity industrialists were the cynosure of all eyes but got no preferential treatment.

Among the early voters, when polling started at 7 a.m. in the 10 constituencies in Mumbai and Thane in Maharashtra, was industrialist Anil Ambani who voted in south Mumbai with a battery of media cameras clicking away.

Dressed down - except for designer glares to shield them from the harsh sun - and ready to use their star power to urge people to do their duty, the stars hoped their message of patriotism would hit home.

Aamir Khan, who broke his holiday in the US with his children, said after casting his vote: "I have travelled 48 hours to cast my vote, so people can certainly go out from their homes to cast their vote. If you love your country, this is the day to show it. I'm happy to see so many senior citizens casting their vote here. I appeal to the youngsters to come out and vote."

Bollywood superstar Shah Rukh Khan, who was in South Africa for the Indian Premier League cricket matches, also made it a point to be here on election day.

Sonali Bendre, who was among the early voters, said: "Voting is our birthright. People sacrificed their lives to give us this right."

Added veteran actor Rishi Kapoor: "It is our basic right to vote, so people should vote. We need to elect the right person."

Echoing the sentiment, well-known lyricist Javed Akhtar asserted: "Your vote is your voice. We want better infrastructure and security system."

"People are becoming more responsible. We have large number of first time voters," is how the versatile Boman Irani put it.

Director Kunal Kohli too urged people to vote saying: "It is an important election with important issues. I think terrorism and economic slowdown are important issues."

Amongst the others who made it a point to vote were Farhan Akhtar, Karan Johar, John Abraham, Celina Jaitley, Sonam Kapoor and Rahul Bose.

More than 13 million voters are eligible to exercise their franchise to choose among 196 candidates, including 17 women, in the fray for the third, final and smallest phase of polling in Maharashtra.

The constituencies where polling took place Thursday are Mumbai North, Mumbai North-East, Mumbai North-West, Mumbai North-Central, Mumbai South-Central, Mumbai South; Thane, Kalyan, Bhiwandi and Palghar.

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