Reported by Chinmaya Dehury
Bhubaneswar, April 3:
If you think our people’s representatives in Odisha spend all their time ‘representing’ them, you are wrong. They also take time off their busy schedules as MLAs, MPs and even ministers to make friends in Bollywood.
Like School and Mass Education minister Rabinarayan Nanda, for instance. One did not know that ‘Rabiji’ was a ‘friend’ of Bollywood star Suniel Shetty till it came from the horse’s mouth.
“I have not come here as a star, but as Rabiji’s friend,” Shetty revealed helpfully to the media today while campaigning for the minister who is seeking re-election as an MLA from the Jeypore constituency. “I hope Rabiji and his party will do well in the elections,” he added for good measure.
Jhina Hikaka, the BJD candidate in the Koraput Lok Sabha seat, basked in reflected glory as the two ‘friends’ – Rabiji and Sunielji – conducted road shows for him, gratis.
Shetty, of course, is no stranger to electioneering in Odisha nor is ‘Rabiji’ his only ’friend’ among politicians in Odisha. In the company of the ravishing Raveen Tandon, he had regaled voters in the dusty environs of Champua exactly five years campaigning for another ‘friend’, independent candidate Jitu Patnaik.
If you think the visit by Shetty and Tandon had any contribution in making the Champua election the most expensive in the state, you are again wrong. He was just doing it for his friend ‘Jituji’ and no monetary transactions were involved.
Before you jump to the conclusion that only ruling party leaders and Fat Cats like ‘Jituji’ have friends in Bollywood, think again.
Even the party of the ‘aam admi’ – no, not the recent avatar but the original version – can count on the khaas admis of Bollywood as ‘friends’. You have to look no further than Kalahandi where Bhatkta Charan Das, the original padayatri has requisitioned the services of ‘friends’ Prachi Desai and Riya Sen to campaign for him since Wednesday – of course without any money changing hands as you would like to insinuate.
On its part, the BJP has lined up yesteryear Bollywood heartthrob Hema Malini and cricketer turned entertainer Navjot Singh Sidhu to campaign for the party in the days to come.
Ironically, for some as yet unrevealed reason, the stars prefer the most backward areas of the state when taking on campaigning assignments. May be they are doing a recce, a la Ramgopal Verma after the Mumbai terror attack, to get a real ‘feel’ of poverty, undernourishment and worse for a future film.
While the stars are having a whale of time campaigning for their ‘friends’ – and doing a ‘recce’ to boot – and the voters are not exactly complaining, there are a few out to spoil the fun. Take social activist Prafulla Samantara for example, who is insinuating that these stars charge crores for their appearance.
“While the tribals are deprived of their rights and justice, political parties are hiring these actors spending crores of rupees to lure the innocent tribals. They want to create public opinion in their favour,” said the incorrigible spoilsport.