For the past couple of years, yesteryears’ superstar and current parliamentarian Hema Malini has been dogged by controversies. Just recently, the ‘Dream Girl’ of the 70s found herself in a sticky situation when news of illegal land-grabbing surfaced.
Anil Galgali, an activist, filed an RTI (Right to Information) about a plot in suburban Mumbai that was granted to the MP by the Maharashtra government a month ago. The 2,000-square-metre plot, whose worth is around Rs 50 crore, was allotted for Hema Malini’s proposed dance school for just Rs 70,000!
So the veteran actress got a subsidised plot of land in Andheri, at the market value of 1976, a policy used by the government to sanction land for any building for arts, education or culture. It’s a shame that while debt-ridden farmers are killing themselves for lack of funds and land in Maharashtra, a privileged MP goes on a land-shopping spree at throwaway prices.
Reportedly, Hema Malini was allotted land for the same project in 1997, but was unable to develop that due to environmental laws. Three years later, another plot in Andheri was given to her but the project never took off. What has irked activist Anil Galgali is that the MP did not bother to return the old plots before acquiring the recent one.
Last year, the actress faced huge criticism from people when her over-speeding Mercedes banged onto an Alto car in Rajasthan’s Dausa area. The parliamentarian, who was gravely injured in her forehead, was rescued by a team in a jiffy, and driven away in an SUV to a private hospital, while an entire family lay on the road with fatal consequences. The family lost their youngest member, 2-year-old daughter Chinni in the mishap.
Hema Malini later posted an insensitive tweet that had it not been for the father’s mistake on road, the toddler would have survived. What was she exactly thinking while shooting from her hips? The point was not whose fault it was, but she being a lawmaker herself, should have considered extending her privilege to a dying child.
It was not the first time the lady found herself in the wrong shoes for speaking insensitively. In 2014, on a visit to her parliamentary constituency Mathura, she said that widows from Bengal and Bihar should not crowd Vrindavan, home to thousands of destitute women. Adding insult to injury, she added, “Vrindavan widows have a bank balance, good income, nice beds, but they beg out of habit.”
When these comments raised a controversy, Hema Malini tried damage-control by saying that her comments were misconstrued. Now haven’t we heard this statement from every public figure worth his salt, whenever they are embroiled in a controversy?
We would like to see a cleaner image from this seasoned actress, who had a certain sense of innocence when politics didn’t touch her.