Macho-man Dharmendra joins saffron brigade

3/25/2004 12:00:00 AM
Evergreen macho-man of Hindi cinema Dharmendra Wednesday joined the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to strengthen its "arms in the national election".

"The lion sleeping within me has woken up to serve mother India," declared Dharmendra, whose equally famous actress wife Hema Malini joined the BJP Feb 19.

Asked if it was not opportunistic to join a political party ahead of the polls, he said he had joined the BJP only because he was inspired by the good governance provided by the government of Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee.

Dharmendra is tipped to be fielded as the BJP's candidate from the Churu Lok Sabha constituency in Rajasthan in the upcoming elections.

Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje Scindia, Law Minister Arun Jaitley BJP president M. Venkaiah Naidu and party spokesman Mukthar Abbas Naqvi were present during Dharmendra's formal induction into the party.

"My inner voice urged me to join national politics and do something for my motherland," he said, recalling that friends had warned him he would be unable to handle his new role.

"If at all I am given the opportunity to serve the people, I shall develop the region allotted to me as a model constituency," Dharmendra said, referring to speculation about his candidature.

Naidu said the BJP's morale had received a boost with the joining of celebrities like Dharmendra.

"It only reflects the mood of the nation. Under the Vajpayee government, even those who are not interested in politics are lured to serve the people by joining us," he said, exuding confidence.

The BJP will hold an interactive session in Mumbai Thursday with film stars who have joined the party to elicit their suggestions for the party's election campaign.