Actor Sonu Sood on Friday played down talk of his political debut ahead of Assembly elections in Punjab next year, following speculation that either he or his sister - Malvika Sachar, a well-known social activist in the state's Moga area - could contest on a Congress ticket.
Mr Sood was interacting with Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal for 'Desh ke Mentor' - a programme to guide students in government-run schools.
'Sonu Soodji has been agreed to be a brand ambassador of our soon-to-be-launched 'Desh ke Mentor' programme. It is matter of joy for us," Mr Kejriwal said at the event.
When asked about his potential entry into politics, Sonu Sood told reporters "politics was not discussed... this is a bigger issue than that".
"There was nothing political... I have always been saying this. Politics was not discussed. This is a bigger issue... I don't think there can be a bigger issue," he said, adding, "People always say, 'If you want to do good work then come to politics ...' It is a wonderful field... but we didn't discuss."
Mr Kejriwal, whose Aam Aadmi Party is the majority opposition party in Punjab, also did not comment on Mr Sood's possible entry into politics, and instead stressed on his "inspiring" work.
"Sonu Sood is an inspiration for the entire nation... Anywhere in the country, if someone is in trouble, (he) contacts and helps them. This is (his) wonder and charisma," Mr Kejriwal said as he appointed Mr Sood as the brand ambassador for the programme.
The Delhi government's 'Education Mentoring Programme' is part of its 'Youth for Education' initiative, and will see over 200 B.Tech, M.Tech and PhD students from the Indira Gandhi Delhi Technological University mentor around 1,000 school students.
The actor took to Twitter to say he is "honoured and humbled" to be the brand ambassador for the programme.
Truly honoured and humbled to be the brand ambassador of Desh Ke Mentor a programme which has given me an opportunity to mentor lakhs of students across India. Thank you so much @ArvindKejriwal sir for making me a part of this initiative.— sonu sood (@SonuSood) August 27, 2021
Jai Hind 🇮🇳
Announcing the programme in May, Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia, who is also the Education Minister, said he hoped it would lead the way for more women in science.
"Although our nation is seeing major innovations in every field... these are mostly led by men. The participation of women is abysmal ... especially in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) subjects", he said.
Mr Sood also discussed 'Pravasi Rojagar' - an online job portal he set up to help migrant labourers.
"I was connected with the 7.5 lakh migrants. I had their data... Whenever I sent some home, I used to ask if they were coming back. They told me that they would if they got jobs. They were scared (thinking) parents might stop them from going back to (cities) where they worked," he explained.
The popular actor helped hundreds of migrant workers (mainly from Bihar and Uttar Pradesh) return home after they were left stranded during last year's Covid lockdown.
He has also provided financial assistance to around 400 families of migrant workers, and helped people during the oxygen crisis that marked the second wave of infections.
"I've decided to help families of the deceased or injured migrants for them to have a secure future. I feel it's my personal responsibility to support them," he was quoted by news agency PTI.
He even launched a toll-free helpline number to help those who needed assistance.
With input from ANI, PTI