Vinod Khanna: The humble MP Pranab Mukherjee couldn’t recognise
During Vajpayee’s regime, Vinod Khanna was picked first as the junior minister for tourism and culture. After a year, he was made the junior minister for external affairs.Updated: Apr 27, 2017 20:20 IST
Throughout his film career Vinod Khanna was overshadowed by another 6-ft something actor. But in his parliamentary career, the four-time Lok Sabha MP from Punjab’s Gurudaspur left Amitabh Bachchan miles behind.
Bachchan’s tryst with politics was a pure misadventure that ended miserably, damaging permanently his ties with the Nehru-Gandhi family. Khanna had admirers across political lines, kept low profile and went on winning four consecutive Lok Sabha polls.
During Vajpayee’s regime, Khanna was picked first as the junior minister for tourism and culture. After a year, he was made the junior minister for external affairs.
He would diligently come to office and work till late in the evening. He never missed a question hour, and enjoyed both Vajpayee’s and LK Advani’s patronage.
But by any standard, Vinod Khanna was prossibly not an active Parliamentarian. He only asked 22 questions in the last two Lok Sabhas (2004-2014) and never cared to bring a private member bill, which MPs use to push policy changes in their own ways. In the last three years, Khanna took part in seven debates and made three special mentions.
He was more in his elements when he went to his constituency. People loved him and he was keen to develop the place as a tourist destination. He once told this correspondent, “Atalji called me and said you have to contest election. I only told him that please give me a ticket from Punjab as I would be comfortable there.”
At the beginning of his political life, Khanna used to drive his own car—a blue SUV—through the villages of his constituency and patiently listen to the problems of people. It didn’t take too long for Khanna to understand that the rural public, smitten by his charisma and reel personality, are ready to be “mere apne”.
One of the everlasting images of the tall, handsome Parliamentarian was when he came to meet the then finance minister Pranab Mukherjee for some work. Mukherjee was returning to his room in Parliament. Khanna introduced himself: “Sir, I am Vinod Khanna.”
Mukherjee, who hardly watched Hindi movie, completely ignored him and continued to walk briskly.
“Sir, I am Vinod Khanna, Member of Parliament,” the familiar voice said, in desperation.
“Oh! Please come, please come, MP ji. What can I do for you,” Mukherjee greeted him warmly.
Finally, in Parliament Khanna found someone oblivious of his star status.
First Published: Apr 27, 2017 19:15 IST