While people are speculating whether Sanjay Dutt's legal case may come in the way of his political ambitions, sources close to the Dutt family (Namrata, Priya, Owen and Kumar) insist that Dutt was never supposed to contest. That eventually it is his wife Manyata who will be the final contestant of the Samajwadi Party from Lucknow, and that her star husband will campaign for her.
It is believed that Dutt cannot stand for elections due to technical reasons. In November 2006, a bench ruled that a person sentenced to imprisonment for two years or above can contest elections, if his/her conviction is stayed by a superior court before filing of nomination papers. Convicted and sentenced to six-year imprisonment for possessing illegal arms during the 1993 Mumbai blasts, Sanjay Dutt is currently on bail and his appeal against conviction is pending in the Supreme Court. Dutt will have to approach the Supreme Court to get his conviction stayed.
A family member related to Sanjay Dutt's family spills the beans, "Manyata has always harbored political ambitions. It was her plan that Sanju become an MP as a strong political party behind him, will help his case. Though Sanju can approach the Supreme Court to get his conviction stayed, it won't be easy. The opposition party will object, and then Manyata will fill in for the actor. Mrs Dutt's name was not announced initially as the party wants to get mileage out of the Dutt name.
At the Gateway of India peace March, after the 26/11 blasts, Manyata interviews about Sanju's political aspirations were all leading up to her creating an image which would create an entry for her into politics." Before Amar Singh announced Dutt's nominations for the Samajwadi Party, Dutt himself had told a couple of weeks ago , "Politics is not for me."
Commenting on the reaction of the sisters, the source says, "The sisters are disappointed. They had no inkling about Sanju's political ambitions. He didn't discuss it with his family. Namrata and Priya are quite shattered at Dutt's (and Manyata's) decision to enter politics that too not from the Congress party."Sanju, Priya and Namrata's parents (Sunil and Nargis Dutt) have always represented, been loyal to and were seen with the Congress Party and members of the Gandhi family so they were appalled at the news of Sanju and his wife entering the political arena through the Samajwadi Party.
They were shocked when they heard the news through the media. Sanju hadn't spoken to them about his decision. The sisters feel it was a wrong step, but they weren't informed or consulted in this matter. How-ever, the family has always been there for him and always will be."
Referring to Manyata's entry into politics the source says, "The sisters are not surprised with Manyata's backdoor entry into politics. They are just hurt that Sanju hasn't called once since the nominations were announced. He's shooting in Kashmir for Bunty Walia's Lamha and hasn't bothered to explain his position to his sisters. The last time Namrata spoke to Sanju was on her birthday (January 5) when he wished her. The Dutt girls are cordial with Maana but it ends there."
However, in the family, it's very clear whom Namrata will support between her brother Sanju and sister Priya when Manyata contests the elections. "Namrata and the whole family will support Priya, no matter what! They all feel Priya's been fantastic throughout the whole thing. Priya is clean-hearted with her dad's values."
What's wrong with Dutt contesting?
According to Section 8(3) of the Representation of the People Act, 1951, a person convicted and sentenced to imprisonment for two years or more, is disqualified from contesting parliamentary or assembly elections. The only convicted politician allowed to contest an election was cricketer-turned-BJP candidate Navjot Sidhu, who sought a mandate to a Lok Sabha seat following his conviction in a road rage case. In a Jan '07 order, the Supreme Court (SC) stayed his conviction, allowing him to enter the electoral fray. Amar Singh (of the SP) has said that the party would seek the SC's and the Election Commission's permission to field Dutt.