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Danseuse Mallika Sarabhai troops into Advani bastion in Gandhinagar

Ahmedabad Congress says she is not party's nominee, but high command empowered to support her

Even AS renowned danseuse Mallika Sarabhai on Thursday announced to take on BJP’s prime ministerial candidate L K Advani from the Gandhinagar Lok Sabha seat, the Congress quickly responded saying she was not the party’s official candidate.

Interacting with the media at her Darpana Academy on the banks of Sabarmati, the 51-year-old danseuse also made it clear that she would contest the poll as an independent candidate. Mallika said she had neither personally approached the Congress nor did it offer to make her its candidate

in Gandhinagar or elsewhere for the elections.

When asked what would be her reaction if the Congress supported her candidature, she said, “I will not join any party, but I am ready to accept their support against Advani.”

She claimed that 1984 onwards, the Congress had been offering her party ticket in every assembly and general elections. “But I had spurned the offer all the times,” she added.

So, what was the urgency to contest elections now? Referring to herself a “novice in politics” but “politics flowing into my blood”, Mallika said she felt it was the most appropriate time to jump into the electoral fray because it was the decisive moment for Indian politics.

“If I don’t contest now, it will be too late after five years,” she said, adding that “Indian politics is going from bad to worse and it needs to be reclaimed from the hands of politicians involved in all sorts of crime, corruption and horse-trading”. “It is going to be my Satyagraha,” she announced.

“I am appealing to everyone who is against the politics of hatred, divisiveness and exclusion to join me— people, groups and parties,” she said, adding, “I am people’s candidate as people have asked me to contest.” Regarding her poll agenda, she said it will be people centric.

Asked as to why she wants to contest from Gandhinagar, she said: “I am a local person and it is my karmabhoomi. I am grounded. I want to return to my constituency the gift of identity and community it has given me.”

Taking a dig at politicians of all hues and colours, she said they had killed democracy. “Politicians go to the people only during elections and are not to be seen for five years after that,” she said.

State Congress chief spokesperson Arjun Modhwadia, meanwhile, said that his party had already sent its panel of candidates from the Gandhinagar seat to the party high command and Mallika’s name was not in the list.

“But if the party high command wants to support the candidature of any person other than those in the panel recommended by the state unit, they are fully empowered to do so,” he said, adding that they he is unaware if Mallika has approached the party bosses in Delhi.

Belonging to one of India’s most illustrious families (her father Vikram Sarabhai had laid the foundation of India’s space research programme), Mallika has seen several ups and downs. Several cases were filed against her, including one of theft, when she took up the cudgels against Chief Minister Narendra Modi during the 2002 riots.

A product of the prestigious St. Xavier’s College of Ahmedabad, Mallika has a Ph D in organisational behaviour, but began her career in films.

She acted in as many as 14 films, including some English (The Mahabharata in 1989), French and English (A Thousand Flowers in 1982) and Dany (2002 in Malayalam).

Besides, she also essayed roles in Hindi and Gujarati films. Her latest film is Love Songs (2007) in English. She gained international fame with her role of Draupadi in Peter Brook’s The Mahabharata, but chose to pursue a career as a danseuse.

She has also performed on television and hosted the Sat Prabhat series on Doordarshan. She is also a skilled writer and has edited several books, including India’s Daughters, Sufism and Beyond, and Spectacular India


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