''Why is Rakhi Sawant talking like this?'' - Shilpa Shetty

By Subhash K. Jha, Bollywood Hungama News Network

This week has been really tough on Shilpa. First Jade Goody's traumatic adieu. Then a member of her own film fraternity Rakhi Sawant was heard telling TV channels that a contestant on Big Boss must have been changed because of Shilpa.

When questioned about Rakhi's allegation, Shilpa says she's appalled. "I don't even want to talk about her. But I was very hurt. I really like Rakhi . Why was she talking this way about me without knowing the facts? How does she know the facts about how contestants were chosen? I don't think it's right for anyone to shoot off her mouth in this way. You may have an outspoken image that you're always eager to uphold. But please don't flaunt that image at my cost."

Shilpa was also appalled by her effigies being burnt. Apparently, Ramdas Atahavle was approached to go into the house. He claims he was dropped because of Shilpa's manoeuvres.

The actress doesn't know whether to laugh or cry at this. "It's the channel's prerogative to select or reject a candidate. Until two days prior to the show, I didn't even know who was going. The format doesn't allow the host to know the contestants .Mr Athavle claims he was dropped on discriminatory grounds because he was a Dalit and Sanjay Nirupam was taken instead."

Shilpa is outraged. "Why was I being blamed if a candidate didn't make it into Big Boss? Why were they throwing stones at the channel Colors' office and burning my effigy? They even held a dharna in Lonavla in front of the Big Boss house. Why me? Every time I'm associated with something people try to use my name for their own purposes. Please leave me alone."

Taking a deep breath Shilpa laughs. "I think I should take all this attention as a compliment. But somewhere it does take its toll on my mental equilibrium. We all need to be more responsible about our duties as a citizen. My phone went ballistic on Tuesday. I'm in the midst of a dozen things and then to be badgered like this! I'm human and I don't like my name being constantly used. Don't hit where it hurts the most. I think they should start auctioning my effigies."

Laughs Shilpa, "But really, Rakhi Sawant takes the cake. What authority does she have to make such charges against me? I'd have Rakhi know that it's the channel's prerogative to decide the participants. I'm hired by the channel to do a job. My jurisdiction is to go on stage and host the show."

Shilpa wants police action against the practice of burning effigies. "It's really very sad that known people are subjected to this. It's very degrading?"

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