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Hema Malini joins BJP, hubby Dharmendra in line


Film actress Hema Malini Thursday took the glamour quotient of India's ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) several notches higher by formally becoming its member ahead of the general election.

Hema Malini, 55, a nominated Rajya Sabha member who has campaigned for the BJP in elections during the past two years, said she loved the ideology of the BJP and would do all within her power to help it grow.

"I have always been a part of the BJP and feel very close to this party," said the dazzling actress, exuding calm radiance in a lime green sari. "I also feel great admiration for (Prime Minister) Atal Bihari Vajpayee."

The only reason she had not joined the party so far was her busy shooting schedule, she explained.

Asked if Congress president Sonia Gandhi's foreign origin was an issue, she replied, her wine-toned eyes flashing briefly: "We all want an Indian to rule the country."

One-time co-star and husband Dharmendra was next in line to join the BJP, she indicated.

"He will definitely campaign for the party and may also join. The people of India love Dharmendra. But I do not think he is the type to contest elections."

But daughters Esha and Ahana, who have joined Hema Malini in various dance recitals, would not share the political stage with their mother as of now.

"Don't bring my children into it... they are too young for all this," she pleaded.

As for speculations about her own candidature for the Lok Sabha poll, she shrugged and flashed a smile. "I do not know at this moment... I may be contesting..."

On cue, BJP president M. Venkaiah Naidu said: "These are only speculations till now. Let the speculations go on."

But would her film assignments and dance recitals leave much room for her political ambitions? "I have divided my time for everything," said the former "dream girl" of Hindi films.

She borrowed Rs.5 from BJP general secretary Pramod Mahajan to sign up. According to BJP leaders, it was within rules for a nominated Rajya Sabha MP to join a political party within six months.

Hema Malini clarified: "I am bound by the BJP whip now."

Formalities over, the ageless beauty turned to her BJP seniors Naidu and Mahajan for approval after her first political performance. "Was I ok?" she asked Naidu.

As Naidu reassured her, she turned to Mahajan and remarked: "I have a lot to learn from you - you speak so well!"

It was Mahajan's turn to blush.


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