Shah Rukh takes an IPL break to cast his vote

By Fakir Hassen

Johannesburg, April 27 (IANS) Bollywood superstar Shah Rukh Khan will take a break from following his Kolkata Knight Riders team in the Indian Premier League tournament being played across South Africa to cast his vote in the Indian elections.

Having politely declined earlier offers to join political rallies of any South African parties in the run-up to the elections here last Wednesday, which was overwhelmingly won by the African National Congress (ANC), Khan will head back to India on Wednesday, together with his family, wife Gauri and children Aryan and Suhana.

Khan had reportedly been approached by ANC leaders in Durban prior to the first IPL games there a few days before the elections here. Other IPL team owners Preity Zinta of the Kings XI Punjab and Shilpa Shetty of the Rajasthan Royals had reportedly also declined offers to appear at political rallies.

Zinta said they had to maintain their political neutrality, just as they did in India.

None of the Bollywood stars would comment on the political mantle that has been assumed by one of their ilk, Sanjay Dutt, who is embroiled in a controversy with his participation in the Indian elections. Dutt had been widely publicised as putting in an appearance at an ANC rally in Durban last month, but failed to appear, citing personal problems.

Unlike South African citizens abroad, who this year were allowed to cast their votes at missions there after potential voters won a high court appeal in this regard, Indian citizens abroad cannot vote, except for diplomatic staff.

Mission officials here were also not sure whether the players in the IPL teams would be allowed to cast their ballots here, but the consensus appeared to be that this would not be permitted.

Khan said he had warned his team that if they did well in his absence, he would return; if not, he would be shouting at them from India.

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