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Sholay II: Garam Dharam blows hot over Bikaner

But for the saffron flags that dot the background, film star Dharmendra's poll meetings in Rajasthan appear classic Bollywood stuff.
PTI | By Sandipan Sharma, Bikaner
PUBLISHED ON APR 11, 2004 02:13 AM IST

But for the saffron flags that dot the background, film star Dharmendra's poll meetings in Rajasthan appear classic Bollywood stuff.

Encouraged by the huge crowds that wait patiently under a scorching sun for a glimpse, Dharmendra rolls out every act from his collection to connect with the voters.

He unleashes a barrage of emotion-packed dialogues, plays the drunken prankster, turns into a romantic poet and even flexes his muscles. No wonder his election rallies in Rajasthan are turning out to be bigger hits than Sholay.

Amid this grandstanding, he also does what he has been drafted into the BJP for: position himself as leader of the Jats in Rajasthan.

Though Dharmendra is contesting the Bikaner Lok Sabha constituency, the BJP is showcasing him throughout the state's Jat belt. And its leaders miss no opportunity to sell him as a son of the soil.

At his first election meeting in Nokha tehsil of Bikaner, local leaders introduced their prized catch as Dharmendra Chaudhary. The name stuck after that.

On his part, 'Mr Chaudhary' strikes the right balance. "I am your Dharam. I belong to everybody — Muslims, Rajputs, Jats. I do not want to be divided on caste lines," he proclaims, adding in the same breath that he is the son of a farmer who wants to do everything for his brothers.

Once the caste calculations are settled, Dharmendra turns into an entertainer. Jai and Veeru, characters from Sholay, dominate his emotion-laced speeches, replete with references to Bharat Maa.

In Sikar on Saturday, Dharmendra had more than 10,000 people shrieking with joy as he said: "I can see Jai and Veeru in all of you. If Jai and Veeru could make one Ramgarh a better place, I am sure you can make our Bharat Maa very beautiful. And I hope every Veeru gets his Basanti."

People also see flashes of Garam Dharam. "We will ask for more water from our neighbours. Par agar nahin diya, to chheen kar le aayenge (But if they don't give it to us, we will snatch it from them)," he roared to rapturous applause in Bikaner.

But the loudest cheers are reserved for his immortal drunken act in Sholay. "I promise you that I will go to Atal Bihari Vajpayee to seek things for you," he builds up the context.

"And if he says no, I will climb a water tank and shout, 'Kood jaoonga, phand jaoonga, mar jaoonga. Vajpayeeji agar Bikaner walon ko unki cheez nahin mili toh — suicide."

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