Two days after Mumbai Mirror reported that actor Sanjay Dutt was the chief guest during the Maharashtra Day celebrations organised by a BJP leader in Dindoshi on May 1, Ashish Shelar, the Mumbai BJP chief, said "lack of judgement" led a party functionary to invite Dutt for the event, where even Shelar shared dais with the film star.
Dutt's presence at the May 1 event surprised many in political circles and invited criticism from Congress. The event was organised by BJP's youth wing leader Mohit Kamboj.
"It was lack of judgement and mistake on part of the event organiser. Such a mistake should not be repeated," Shelar said, adding that he had taken serious note of the matter, but clarified no disciplinary action will be taken against Kamboj.
Finding fault with the BJP for inviting Dutt to the function, a local Congress leader had said, "This is a classic case of anti-nationalism, which is not new to the saffron party." The 56-year-old actor's family has been associated with Congress for long. His sister Priya Dutt has been a Congress Member of Parliament, while his late father Sunil Dutt was a party stalwart and a Union minister for several years. Sunil Dutt was also considered very close to the Gandhi family.
Many in the BJP were critical of repeated paroles and furloughs granted to Dutt while he was serving the sentence at Yerwada jail in Pune in the 1993 blasts case. The actor completed his jail term in February. Kamboj, however, defended himself, saying, "I have a long and friendly association with Sanjay Dutt. I wanted to invite him and got permission from senior party leaders. And what is wrong, if I invited him to be part of the Maharashtra Day celebrations?"
On Sunday, Dutt was also invited to address the audience, and he had said in his speech that the BJP's seats "must increase." Sanjay Dutt had hobnobbed with the Shiv Sena since 1993, when he was first arrested for his alleged role in 1993 Mumbai serial blasts. In 2009, he joined the Samajwadi Party, but quit after Amar Singh was expelled from the party.