‘I want to stay here and do work for Braj Bhoomi’, says Hema Malini
Yesteryear dream girl Hema Malini, the BJP candidate here for the Lok Sabha election, has become today’s nightmare, metaphorically and literally, for the sitting Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) MP Jayant Chaudhary, grandson of the legendary Charan Singh and son of Union Minister Ajit Singh.
In the 2009 general elections, Hema Malini was one of the star campaigners for Mr. Chaudhary, as the RLD and the BJP were on the same side of the political fence. This time, the RLD is fighting the election in alliance with the Congress, which, as the campaign progressed, has become more of an albatross, with little to add and lot to damage.
Anti-Congress sentiment, though the party has long ceased to count as a force in this part of political atlas, coupled with the pro-Modi frenzy assiduously whipped by the BJP in the last few months, has undoubtedly made it a very tough election for the member of the Charan Singh clan with a Master’s from the prestigious London School of Economics.
With less than 48 hours for the polling, both sides are leaving no door un-knocked in their bid to attract voters. On Monday, the BJP’s prime ministerial candidate, Narendra Modi, addressed a mammoth rally of a responsive crowd that stayed on braving the scorching sun. Strangely he did not bother to mention even once about the sitting candidate and his party as Mr. Modi trained his guns entirely on the Gandhis in New Delhi and Yadavs in Lucknow.
On Tuesday, the RLD succeeded in holding an equally impressive rally addressed among others by Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi. It was essentially a show of strength of the Lok Dal which has traditionally held sway over this Jat-dominated constituency.
The last-minute inclusion of Jats in the Other Backward Classes (OBCs) category should have boosted the prospects of the RLD candidate at least among the voters from his community. But alas the shadow of the Muzaffarnagar riots, which created a wedge among the Jats and the Muslims, has robbed a bit of the sheen of the reservation salvo.
Presence of the Bahujan Samaj Party and to a small extent the Aam Aadmi Party is also adding to the woes of Mr. Chaudhary. The BSP voters are steadfast in their support even if the chances of the party candidate are zilch. A passionate 33-year-old AAP candidate Kapil Mishra is well known for his campaign to create awareness of corruption in the name of Yamuna River preservation.
Mr. Chaudhary has made outsider vs. local as one of the main issues and it does find an echo among the voters. Hema Malini, who has had a stint in the Rajya Sabha and is fighting her maiden Lok Sabha election, is seeking to counter it by invoking her ‘spiritual connect’ to Lord Krishna and determination to serve the people in the Krishna land. At age 66, she has retained her charm and great stamina.
“Brajwasiyon [residents], I was here five years ago to seek votes for Jayantji and I must thank you that you had listened to me and helped him win. But his party has changed sides. He is not with the BJP. Now, I am fighting elections from the BJP and you must vote for me,” is her campaign refrain.
At a news conference on Sunday, she dismissed that she would leave ‘Braj Bhoomi’ after elections and claimed that she was close to “buying a house” in the constituency.
“I am a devotee of Lord Krishna. I want to stay here and do work for the Braj Bhoomi ... A deal of purchasing a house in Mathura is almost in the final stage,” Hema Malini told reporters.