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Govinda prepares to take on Ram Naik
Movie star Govinda is gearing up to take on Petroleum Minister Ram Naik in the coming general election after he was Thursday fielded for the Mumbai North parliament seat by the Congress party.
Govinda figured among 16 poll candidates named by the Congress in New Delhi and the actor, who joined the Congress March 15, met Maharashtra Chief Minister Sushilkumar Shinde here Thursday to discuss the development.
Later, Govindatold reporters he would hit the campaign trail immediately and attempt to reach out to the people of his constituency.
The Congress had prepared an air-conditioned van for the actor's poll campaign in anticipation of his nomination.
According to party sources, the van will be done up with trimmings like the party insignia and named the "Govinda rath" after the ancient chariots used by warriors of yore.
Naik has already kicked off his campaign with his "Ram Rath" and has been doing the rounds of the sprawling constituency that spreads from suburban Mumbai to Palghar in Thane district.
Born Govinda Ahuja, the actor is a resident of Virar. Despite his Bollywood success, Govinda has retained his contacts in the area and frequently helps out his former neighbours in lower middle-class localities.
A deeply religious man, Govinda has always funded marquees dedicated to Hindu god Ganesh in his home belt, thereby winning over large segments of the people in the Vasai-Virar area.
The Congress and its alliance partner, the Nationalist Congress Party, are hoping that Govinda will be able to influence North Indian voters in the region who form a substantial part of the population.
The actor will also deliver speeches in Marathi, a language he is familiar with.
Reports said Bhai Thakur, the alleged underworld don from the Vasai-Virar area, who was arrested under the Terrorism and Disruptive Activities Act, had come out in support of Govinda.
But the actor denied these reports and admitted he was socially acquainted with Thakur's brother Hitendra, a lawmaker in the Maharashtra assembly.
Hitendra Thakur, a leader of the small Harit Vasai party, is a supporter of the Chief Minister Shinde's government.