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The panting piper of Serampore

Bappida to Serampore: Zindagi mera gaana, main isi ka deewana, jhoomo naacho, mere saath naacho gaao!

Serampore to Bappida: Tuney mari entryian…. Ooh lala ooh lala, Bappida hi jeetega!

Bappi Lahiri and his supporters hit the high notes on Thursday as the singer-cum-composer-turned-BJP-candidate hit the road for his first campaign outing in Serampore.

“Everyone loves my music and I will use my music to win people over. If Tansen could sing songs and bring rain and storm, I can also use my music to make lotuses bloom in every Serampore home!” he had smiled, before setting out.

The jingle jangle of his jewellery was softer than usual as the king of bling sported only one of his trademark gold chains, letting the colour saffron dominate his look of saffron T-shirt, blue trousers, blue waistcoat and shades.

Stroking his mane and flashing a toothy grin, Bappi arrived at the Dakshineswar temple to offer prayers. Frenzied fans followed him around the temple armed with cellphones.

Among them was Monideep Banerjee from Baidyabati, who arrived at Dakshineswar with a retinue of 50 Bappi fans, holding up a banner that read: “Best fan of Bappida.”

“Bappida hochhe Disco King, amra chai Bappida ke (he is the Disco King, we want him)!” squealed the fan number one.

On reaching Uttarpara, Bappi took up pride of place in an open jeep for a roadshow, in true neta style. Starting from Uttarpara’s Raja Peary Mohan College, he was to trundle along a 15km stretch of GT Road, through Bhadrakali, Hind Motor, Konnagar, Rishra and Serampore.

As word spread, men, women and children came scurrying out of their homes, shops and lanes, inching towards his jeep, showering him with petals and shadowing him. A few loyalists even clung to the back of the jeep as it crawled through the cramped lanes.

Bollywood’s Disco King had become the Pied Piper of Serampore.

But the soaring temperature was not kind to the 61-year-old. Some 20 minutes into the roadshow, a heaving and panting Bappi sunk into the front seat, his hand still raised for some quick waves as his son Bappa struggled to safeguard his father from the swelling crowds.

Around 7.30pm, when the convoy reached a petrol pump in Hind Motor, Bappi switched from the jeep to a black Innova.

An hour later, at Konnagar Matri Sadan, BJP supporters pepped up Bappi by playing on sound boxes his songs Tune maari entriyaan and Asaalam-e-Ishqum from the recent Bolly hit Gunday.

In Konnagar, Bappi was greeted and garlanded with a thali of marigold flowers, sandal paste and incense sticks.

At 9.30pm, by the time the convoy rolled into Rishra and women blew conch shells and ululated, a weary Bappi barely managed a wave from behind the window glass of his SUV.

Last stop, Serampore, was still half an hour away.