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Lok Sabha elections 2019: In Babarpur, ‘Gani Bhai’ regales crowd with dialogues, one-liners

Done contesting his own seat, Raj was in Kabir Nagar in Delhi’s Babarpur to campaign for Dilip Pandey, the AAP’s North East Delhi candidate on Saturday evening.

lok-sabha-elections Updated: May 05, 2019 09:17 IST
Shiv Sunny
Shiv Sunny
New Delhi
Prakash Raj was campaigning for the AAP’s North East Delhi candidate Dilip Pandey.
Prakash Raj was campaigning for the AAP’s North East Delhi candidate Dilip Pandey. (Sonu mehta/HT photo)
         

Few in the audience knew Prakash Raj by that name. Most identified him as ‘Gani Bhai’ from the Bollywood film ‘Wanted’. The actor turned politician, who is contesting the ongoing Lok Sabha polls from Bengaluru’s Bangalore Central parliamentary constituency as an independent candidate and is in Delhi to support the Aam Aadmi Party’s (AAP) candidates, made it a point to give the audience a glimpse of his negative on-screen characters.

“Aye, kya hai? Tera problem kya hai? (What is it? What is your problem?),” an angry looking Raj said in a stern, heavy voice, all the while pointing his finger at a squabbling member in the crowd.

It silenced the crowd for a moment before claps and whistles followed.

With a straight face, Raj returned to his speech, which he termed as a “private conversation” with the people. “Did the BJP or the Congress think of using your money to construct schools all these years? The AAP did. If you want such work to continue, you need to be with the AAP”.

Done contesting his own seat, Raj was in Kabir Nagar in Delhi’s Babarpur to campaign for Dilip Pandey, the AAP’s North East Delhi candidate on Saturday evening. But Pandey couldn’t make it to the event as he was attending a ‘padyatra’ in another part of the constituency. The local MLA and AAP’s Delhi convener Gopal Rai welcomed Raj.

The audience waited patiently for over an hour in front of a stage erected in the middle of a 33-feet wide road. Chairs had been placed, but many children chose to instead occupy a place over at the front as members of a hired orchestra dished out patriotic songs, qawwalis and shayaris.

Two daily-wage labourers who vote in the constituency occupied chairs at the back. “We were passing by when we heard good music. We decided to relax a little,” said Yasin, one of the two labourers. “We will vote for whoever respects us,” said Yamin, his brother-in-law.

It was plainly evident that many didn’t know who Prakash Raj was until he arrived. “He is Gani Bhai, the man beaten up by Salman Khan (in films),” a garments factory worker told Dilshad Khan, a local vendor who was in the audience.

Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal had been attacked in Moti Nagar by the time Raj took the stage, but party members discussed the matter in hushed tones, leaving the audience in the dark of the development. In any case, party workers were struggling to control the crowd, which consisted mainly of youngsters and children who wanted to occupy the front spot.

When Raj arrived sometime later — a few minutes after opal Rai — it took considerable time and effort to control the children who wanted selfies with the actor. “Be patient. Prakash Raj aka Gani Bhai will take photos with you all. He will be here for two hours,” an AAP worker announced.

“Aali re aali. Ab Aam Aadmi Party ki baari aali (It’s here. It’s here. AAP’s turn is here),” he tweaked his dialogue from the film Singham.

“I am rich because people like you paid to watch my films. Now that the country is in trouble, it is my duty to descend on to the road,” Raj said in his accented Hindi. He went on to credit the AAP for Delhi’s “better schools, hospitals and good roads”. “Speak to your neighbours, to your parents and tell them you will vote for the AAP,” Raj said in his 10-minute long speech in clean Hindi.

Before ending his speech, he asked the audience if they understood what he said. “Haan, Gani bhai, haan,” a group of people shouted.

“Now you have won,” Raj said turning to Gopal Rai. As Raj left the venue in a Toyota Innova, and Gopal Rai in a Tata Nano, children ran behind the actor’s vehicle, some of them dangling from it. “We were promised selfies with him,” a 12-year-old boy Rehman said after giving up chase.

First Published: May 05, 2019 04:26 IST

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