iral posts on Facebook claiming the actor turned politician Urmila Matondkar converted to Islam and changed her name to ‘Maryam Akhtar Mir’ have hit headlines and the social media IT cell has gone on to the level of changing the name of her father and mother and moreover, her religion. Her father Shrikant Matondkar, who is known as Kanta Mama in Kudaldeshkar wadi of Girgaon, is very well Hindu, Brahmin. However, there is fake news on the internet that shows her parents as some Shivinder Singh and mother Rukshana Sultana. All these are done to damage her image and project her as a non-Hindu. Whereas, her mother, Sindhu, and father, Shrikant, both are Maharashtrian Brahmins! Her lecturer father and homemaker mother struggled a lot to give good upbringing to their two daughters and one son, again they all are Hindu. Urmila started her career as a child artist. She was only seven when she appeared in Shyam Benegal’s 1981 film Kalyug and is best known for her role as a child artist in Shekhar Kapur’s Masoom, 1983. Till then, she lived in Kudaldeshkar chawl and then shifted to Andheri.
Later on, some social media profiles made postings as Urmila Matondkar has connections with Bhagwat. However, we could not find a single photograph of them together or any mention about them. Bhagwat does not have a social media account; moreover, Bhagwat and Urmila are not relatives at all. Urmila did marry a Kashmiri businessman, Mohsin Akhtar Mir, in 2016, but she has not changed her religion. It is a common trend to play up such claims before elections. One must know that she has not been converted to Islam and she has a temple at her house. In a statement, Urmila’s husband said, “Even my staff at home can vouch for the fact that she has not converted to Islam.” If Urmila marrying a Muslim guy is a reason for controversy, then why are we ignoring Hema Malini and Smriti Irani?
We all know that Dharmendra then tied the knot with Hema Malini in an intimate ceremony. Dharmendra converted to Islam to get married to her as he was already married and a father of four children. Dharmendra left his first wife, got converted to Islam, and became Dilawar Khan before marrying his Dream Girl Hema Malini. There were also stories about how he paid the crew member for calling out maximum cuts during the shoot of Sholay just so that he could repeat a romantic scene with his lady-love again and again. To perform Nikah, Hema Malini too got converted to Islam but both the husband and wife retained their Hindu names. Today, Hema Malini is BJP’s sitting MP from Mathura.
Smriti Irani (born as Smriti Malhotra) married a Parsi businessman, Zubin Irani, in 2001. In October the same year, the couple had their first child, a son. In September 2003, the couple had their second child, a daughter. Both her children are practicing Parsis. Smriti is also a stepmother to Shanelle who is Zubin Irani’s daughter from his previous marriage with a coordinator and former beauty contestant Mona Irani and now is a law student at Georgetown University in the United States. Today, Smriti Irani is at the peak of the BJP politics and no one has any objection to her being Parsi. However, Indira Priyadarshini Gandhi, born as Indira Priyadarshini Nehru in a Kashmiri Pandit family on November 19, 1917, in Allahabad is still under attack because of her marriage. Her husband Feroze Gandhi (no relation to Mahatma Gandhi), whom she knew from Allahabad, and who was studying at the London School of Economics. The marriage took place in Allahabad according to Adi Dharm rituals though Feroze belonged to a Zoroastrian Parsi family of Gujarat, same as Smriti Irani. However, the double standards of BJP politics could accept one and Indira, a senior most politician of India, is called as Muslim and is constantly under attack.
Let it be Urmila, Hema, Smriti, or anyone else, they are Indian citizens with individual identities; they all belong to the film and entertainment industry of India. Matondkar decided to join the Congress because the party’s ideology matched with that of her father Shrikant Matondkar, who was a senior leader of the All India Bank Employees Association. These days, people enter politics for gains but she has done it because her ideology and value system matches with that of the Congress. Same as Hema and Smriti, their ideology matches to BJP. Everyone knows who is playing the politics of religion. Bollywood actors are just artists. They go where they are invited and speak what they are asked to at that platform. However, that is their personal issue. Some actors officially joined some or the other political party and she chose to join Congress after meeting party president Rahul Gandhi. The party also fielded her against BJP’s Gopal Shetty and it is expecting that she could win the seat by using her star power and humanitarian work for the underprivileged.
Well, each politician should take moral responsibility and work for the betterment of the nation, keeping religious bias aside. India is a land of religious diversities. India is a democratic country where the government is formed by the people, for the people, and of the people. Democracy is the beauty of Indian politics. The people of India choose which representative and which political party should run the government. This gives them power. Better representation of a larger range of public opinion. The narrow focus and vote bank politics of most of the parties even in the central government sidelines the national issues such as economic welfare and national security. Instead of checking the religion of a candidate and judging her/him, we the Indians should value their efforts. The lack of homogeneity in the Indian population has led to the rise of political parties with agendas catering to one or a mix of these groups. We are sad to see the lowering standards of India politics. In most of the cases, the main dominant measure of political participation is the number of people who turn out on voting day. A number of reasons have been postulated to explain why participation in political activity is high in certain groups and low in others. Factors such as lack of awareness, community beliefs and values, cultural factors, and missing fundamentals in a political system have been put forward to explain political participation. Of all these, the cultural and religious factors stand out as the most influential. In this 21st century, we the voters need to grow and say no to such selective attacks.
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