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Can Urmila Matondkar Save The Congress In Mumbai North?

Urmila has been targeted by her opponents about her being a successful actor and marrying a Muslim.

Actor Urmila Matondkar had many surprised when she was named the Congress candidate from the Mumbai North constituency in the run up to the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.

Making her debut into politics, Urmila contested against incumbent BJP MP Gopal Shetty. Shetty had beaten Congress candidate Sanjay Nirupam by over 4 lakh votes in 2014.

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PTI reported that the Congress zeroed in on Urmila after being unable to find someone suitable to take on Shetty. This was reportedly after Nirupam had shown unwillingness to contest the elections this time. The report said that Urmila had surprised many with her articulateness while speaking on political issues and had ensured that the BJP has a fight on hand and the contest is no longer a cakewalk.

However, Urmila’s campaign has not been easy. She has been targeted by her opponents about her being a successful actor and marrying a Muslim. Her opponent Shetty had said, “Urmila ji has been brought to politics because she is a celebrity and because she is a celebrity, she has been brought due to how she looks, why would anyone feel bad about it, there’s no reason. She is from a political family. She has knowledge about politics. But she has chosen a wrong party.”

Meanwhile, several fake posts on Facebook and Twitter claimed that she had converted to Islam and changed her name to ‘Mariyam Akhtar Mir’ after marrying her husband Mohsin Akhtar Mir. The fake posts claimed that she had become the victim of ‘love jihad’. However, a copy of her affidavit submitted to the Election Commission proved otherwise.

In an interview with Huffpost India right after her candidacy was announced, she had said she was prepared for the hate she was going to face: “People are going to say ‘oh she’s such a bimbette, oh she’s so this, so that’. But it’s fine. Time and my talks will tell how far I go.”

She had said she was still getting used to the “vocabulary of hate”. Urmila questioned the politics of Prime Minister Narendra Modi saying, “Unemployment is at a 40-year high and what is our Prime Minister doing? How is it that the PM of a democratic government hasn’t held a single press conference in 5 years? His megalomaniacal approach is quite objectionable. People are afraid to call him out because the media is pretty much under them.”

Urmila forayed into films as a child actor in Shekhar Kapur’s Masoom, but is best known for her roles in Ram Gopal Varma’s Rangeela, Satya, Kaun and Bhoot, and Sriram Raghavan’s neo-noir thriller Ek Haseena Thi.

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This article exists as part of the online archive for HuffPost India, which closed in 2020. Some features are no longer enabled. If you have questions or concerns about this article, please contact indiasupport@huffpost.com.