|Nagma at an election rally in Meerut on Sunday. (PTI)
Lucknow, March 25: He says it was merely a well-meaning whisper but the elderly gentleman has just “kissed”, er, kicked off a storm.
Television footage showing a Congress legislator holding actress Nagma’s face close to his lips while campaigning in Hapur, western Uttar Pradesh, two days ago has gone viral on social networking sites, embarrassing the party barely a fortnight ahead of elections.
Gajraj Singh, the 62-year-old MLA, today insisted it was not a kiss. “I was trying to whisper something into her ears,” he told The Telegraph from Hapur.
Nagma, too, has denied that the legislator tried to kiss her. “Nothing of this sort happened. A lie is being spread against me,” she said yesterday in a statement to the media in Meerut.
The Congress leadership has not taken any action against the legislator.
According to the purported footage of the Sunday morning incident, Singh is seen holding Nagma’s face. The actress is seen brushing off his hand. While it is not clear from the footage whether it was just a whisper or something more, television channels played the visual over and over again before social networking sites uploaded the clip, provoking comments against the legislator.
One comment read: “Woe of a southern star in north heartland politics.”
Asked if it was an intended kiss that failed to find its mark, Singh appeared outraged. “How could that be a kiss? Her head was covered with her pallu,” he said.
“We had reached the Chaudhary Charan Singh crossing. There she was supposed to garland the statue of Chaudhary saab. The place was too noisy. It was difficult to talk to her. Nagmaji was sitting in the car. Somebody told me to remind Nagmaji that she should get down and garland the statue. I went up to her and whispered this message to her. I had to bring her head close to my mouth to convey the message.”
All that he had done, Singh said, was “suggest” that the area being dominated by Jats, “she should garland Chaudhary saab’s” statue. “I am 62,” he added. “I am a victim of a false propaganda.”
A local Congress leader, Pramod Katyan, however, said “an experienced leader” like Singh should “maintain decorum”.
Katyan’s associates said Nagma was keeping quiet as she didn’t want to antagonise Singh who wields a lot of influence in the area. Hapur is part of Meerut parliamentary constituency, from where the Congress has fielded Nagma for the April 10 poll.
Some women leaders accompanying Nagma, who reached Hapur on Sunday morning to inaugurate a party office and visit a gurdwara, had also criticised Singh but have since clammed up after Nagma’s statement yesterday.
But the alleged “kiss” did claim a victim. Last heard: the Congress had given Katyan the “kiss-off” — at least for the time being — for making “reckless” comments. The local leader was suspended yesterday.