The “Bihari Babu” hardly worked in two shifts even in his years of struggle in Bollywood. But the summer of 2014 is different.
Shatrughan Sinha puts in at least eight hours in campaigning everyday. Often, the pack-up call comes hours after the schedule.
Travelling in an SUV with NaMo posters all around, the first Bollywood star from Bihar takes criticism for not visiting the constituency with smile. In very articulate way, the 67-year-old sitting MP turns the criticism into blessings.
“Your complaint that I do not visit the constituency is a family matter and we shall solve the issue once we sit together. But today, the question is not mine and it’s about the nation. Time has come to give your precious vote for action hero Narendra Modi. He is the vision of the country,” said Shatrughan while addressing a public meeting last week in Gaurichak, under the Fatuha Assembly seat, around 15km from Patna.
Yet, the voters seem not to be happy with him. “Last time I saw Shatrughan was in 2009 and now he has come to show his face again. I have failed to understand what kind of people’s representative he is. He should visit his constituency at least once in three or four months. But I do not have any other option amid the Modi wave and will give my vote to the BJP,” said Rameshwar Singh of Fathepur village.
The Patna Sahib seat is considered as the BJP’s face in Bihar. But retaining it this time is a big challenge for the party. In fact, the state BJP president, Mangal Pandey, once said Patna Sahib belonged to the party and it cannot afford to lose the seat.
The six Assembly constituencies under Patna Sahib are Bankipur, Bakhtiyarpur, Kumhrar, Patna Sahib, Digha and Fatuha. Last time (2009), Shatrughan had won the seat on a margin of nearly 1.5 lakh from his nearest competitor, Vijay Kumar of the RJD. This time, Shatrughan is facing Bhojpuri superstar Kunal Singh of the Congress, Parveen Amanullah of the Aam Aadmi Party and neurologist Gopal Prasad Sinha of the ruling the JD(U).
Shatrughan starts his campaign from hotel Maurya near Gandhi Maidan. He goes to the people in two slots — 12noon to 3pm and 4pm to 9pm. The actor hits the street with clean-shaven looks, shirts, trousers and a waistcoat. Dark shades are a must for him and his shoes are most shiny black leather.
“Before leaving the hotel room, I just take juice of wood apple and butter milk, which keep me cool. So far as lunch is concerned during the campaign, I prefer the same menu kept in my car. Being a vegetarian, I like green vegetables, roti and daal in dinner,” he said.
Even while campaigning, Shatrughan — popularly called Shotgun in the film circles — keeps track of his family members and their whereabouts. “I make sure that I get all the latest information about the movement of my family members. My daughter Sonakshi always keeps me posted of her shooting schedule,” said Shatrughan, whose wife Poonam, and two sons Luv and Kush are in Patna for almost a month.
“Bihari Babu” is the first actor-turned-politician who became Union minister in the regime of Atal Bihari Vajpayee. Shatrughan had held two portfolios — health and family welfare, and shipping. He was nominated to the Rajya Sabha twice earlier.
While campaigning, Shatrughan talks about food for thought: “I have not come here to give a long speech, I have come here to give you a food for thought. Like the rise of Titanic, here is the rise of Modi. Today, the country needs him and you must vote for me.
“Jaa ke kah do sholo se chingari se, kamal khile hai iss baar bare tayarri se (Go and tell leaping flames, lotus has come prepared this time),” sums up Shatrughan at Khemnichak locality after a long day’s campaign.
lPatna Sahib votes on April 17