Indian film star causes rush at pols

Thesp bidding for Mumbai parliamentary seat

NEW DELHI — Bollywood star Govinda, a candidate in India’s legislative elections, will no longer campaign by car for fear of causing a stampede similar to the one that killed 21 women and children in northern India this week.

Govinda, who has starred in more than 100 films, is bidding for the Mumbai parliamentary seat for India’s main opposition Congress party against Petroleum Minister Ram Naik of the ruling Hindu nationalists.

“Thousands of people are coming to see me on roads wanting to shake hands with me because of my Bollywood status,” said Govinda, who like many Indians uses only one name.

“I fear no untoward incident should happen like it did in Lucknow, which is why I am suspending my road shows for my election campaigns.”

Nineteen women and two children were trampled to death April 12 in the Uttar Pradesh state capital of Lucknow when they rushed for free saris handed out for a Hindu nationalist leader’s birthday.

Road campaigns are a hallmark of Indian politics, with candidates using megaphones to deliver speeches to crowds thronging the streets.

Govinda said he would still campaign door to door “to meet my voters closely and understand their problems.”

Elections begin Tuesday.

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