The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Magician in the ring

Sursagar (Jodhpur), Nov. 28: Gopal Jinegar is hoping he will win a seat by magic.

Riding a moped and dressed in his colourful costume, the magician is wowing the crowds in Sursagar, which adjoins chief minister Ashok Gehlot’s Sardarpura seat.

Gopal says he chose not to contest from Sardarpura to spare “guru bhai” Ashok.

Assisted by eight fellow magicians from across the country, he is running a campaign very different from that of his Congress and BJP rivals in the reserved constituency.

Gopal’s symbol is a frock, which he fishes out of a seemingly empty bag at all election meetings.

To tell the crowd he will work for the disappearance of corruption from the state and the country, the magician makes a handkerchief vanish. He produces a magic stick instead.

Through a rope trick, his key campaigner Dharmendra, a magician from Delhi, tries to convince the audience how Gopal will get the highest votes and defeat both sitting Congress MLA Bhanwar Balai and the BJP’s Mohan Meghwal, a former MLA.

The presence of Independents, Gopal tries to convince voters as he entertains them with magic shows, is important as they can work as a pressure group against both the BJP and the Congress “who forget their promises made during the elections”.

He is upset with the chief minister for not keeping his promise to include magic in the “fine arts” and teach it in schools and colleges.

Gehlot had made the pledge last year at a convention of the Indian Jadu Kala Academy, which Gopal heads, in Jodhpur. He inaugurated the meet that drew 170 magicians from all over the country.

Gopal also feels let down that Ashok, a “guru bhai” — both learnt their tricks at the feet of the late Laxman Singh Gehlot, the chief minister’s father — and a fellow professional, refused him a Congress ticket. Gehlot used to perform alongside his father as a junior magician before joining public life.

The president of the Jadu Kala Academy, who says magic is all about tricks, has performed in France, Italy, Germany and Belgium and won many gold medals and prizes.

He has done shows to raise money for drought relief, flood relief and for hospitals and specialises in shows based on Jain principles.

Popular opinion in the constituency is that even if the good magician does not win, he will spell bad news for his guru bhai’s Congress.

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