Mumbai- Bollywood actor-turned-politician Urmila Matondkar, who unsuccessfully contested the 2019 Lok Sabha elections on a Congress ticket, joined the Shiv Sena on Tuesday.
Immediately after joining the Uddhav Thackeray-led party, Matondkar took a swipe at actress Kangana Ranaut, saying “unnecessary importance” has been given to the latter.
The war of words between the BJP and the ruling Sena had become sharper after Ranaut compared Mumbai with Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir (PoK) following the death of actor Sushant Singh Rajput in June this year.
Matondkar (46), who quit the Congress in September 2019, nearly five months after she was defeated by BJP’s Gopal Shetty from North Mumbai Lok Sabha seat, joined the Sena in the presence of Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray at his residence ‘Matoshri’ in suburban Bandra.
Sena sources said Matondkar’s name was forwarded to Governor B S Koshyari by the Sena recently for nomination to the Legislative Council from the governor’s quota.
In her first remarks after joining the Sena, Matondkar said “unnecessary importance” has been given to actor Kangana Ranaut.
“Earlier interviews given by me were part of a larger interview, but most of the questions were asked about Kangana.
I think she has been given undue importance, and (I) do not think of giving any further importance to her,” she told reporters.
Matondkar also confirmed that her name has been suggested as a nominee to the Maharashtra Legislative Council by the Sena.
“I have been told that my name is recommended (to governor)for the post of MLC. I wish to work for women’s issues in my political life,” she said.
When asked about her resignation from the Congress, the actor said she had quit that party but not public service.
“I am impressed by the leadership of Shiv Sena president Uddhav Thackeray and his work, hence I decided to join the party. I had received a call from Thackeray himself before joining the party,” Matondkar revealed.
She said Sena’s women’s wing is already strong and she would be glad to work with them.
Matondkar also hailed the performance of the Thackeray-led MVA government, which recently completed one year in office.
“The Maharashtra government faced various challenges like COVID-19 pandemic, heavy rains etc, but the government has performed extremely well in this one year (since coming to power in November 2019). I think Sena has done well in this test of governance,” she said.
Ranaut and Matondkar have been engaged in a war of words.
Matondkar had earlier said that “the entire country is facing the menace of drugs. Does she (Kangana) know Himachal is the origin of drugs? She should start from her own state”.
Meanwhile, when asked about Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath’s proposed meeting with film personalities in Mumbai, Matondkar said she did’t see any possibility of “Bollywood and Mumbai getting separated”.
“It’s (Mumbai and Film City) a very close association which was formed on the efforts of hundreds of thousands of people”.
She said Bollywood must stand up for its own cause.
“It is wrong if films of an actor are being targeted and appeal is made to ban them,” she said.
The “Rangeela” actor said people working in Bollywood are vulnerable as stakes involved are high.
“Due to this, Bollywood people try to be soft with the powers that be,” she said when asked about the reluctance of the film industry to take stand on politics.
Matondkar further said, “I will not pretend to have all the information on issues like farmers’ protest near Delhi, but I think they should be heard properly. Farmers want an audience and Centre should respond to it”.
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