The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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MP = Missing Person
- Many victims but no leader in actor’s constituency

Mumbai, July 15: His voters want his healing touch, but where is Govinda'

Actor-turned-MP Govinda is under fire for being absent when the people of his constituency desperately need his help in the aftermath of the July 11 blasts.

A considerable number of those injured and killed in the blasts live in the North Mumbai constituency that extends from Jogeshwari to the western suburbs of Vasai and Virar. His voters are angry that the man they elected to Parliament has neither the time nor the sensitivity to console the bereaved families.

Saibal Gupta, a marketing manager staying in Vasai’s Evershine Nagar, said: “I believe Vasai, Virar, Mira Road, and Bhayander have the highest casualty figure among the dead. Families of two Evershine Nagar lost their bread-earners, and they are worried about their future. But Govinda has never been visible in this area.”

Gupta said Govinda was absent from his constituency on July 26, 2005, too, when a cloudburst sank the city. Life in the Vasai-Virar suburbs was disrupted by floods. “All of us were very angry when Govinda told a TV channel that the people of Vasai-Virar are used to staying in flood conditions. It was a very irresponsible statement,” Gupta said.

According to government figures, among those who died in the blasts, 76 lived in Vasai, Mira Road, Bhayander, Nalla Sopara and Virar. They were killed by explosions in trains near Borivli and Bhayander railway stations.

“Govinda may call himself Virar ka chhokra but, as a parliamentarian, he represents not just these five suburbs in Thane district, but even suburbs like Jogeshwari, Andheri, Goregaon, Kandivli, Dahisar and Borivli that are part of Mumbai city. But, we don’t see him around,” said Payal Kapadia, a Borivli resident.

Govinda’s former party colleague and adivasi leader Vivek Pandit said: “Govinda is not a peoples’ person at all. Expecting anything from him is useless. It is because the Congress decided to field him that I left the party.”

Govinda was in London for Priyadarshan’s new film Bhagam Bhag when the blasts occurred. He was unavailable for comment, and apparently is wary of circulating his mobile phone number after the row over threatening calls he received a few months ago.

Govinda’s brother Kirti Kumar said the criticism was a political conspiracy. “We have not heard anyone saying this. On July 12, Govinda flew to Mumbai for a day, and visited Bhagwati and Cooper hospitals before flying back for the shoot. I was with him when he met the injured.”

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