The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Bhupen sings at feel-good party
- BJP shows off ‘diamond’, maestro hints at LS contest

New Delhi, Feb. 27: From the glittering parade of stars, to the dazzle of a “diamond” — the BJP has it all.

Singer Bhupen Hazarika today joined the BJP and hinted he could be a candidate for the Lok Sabha polls, ending speculation that the cultural icon could rejoin active politics as several parties had come forward with offers for a ticket to Parliament.

Speaking to reporters at the BJP office here, Hazarika said the party had proved itself “stable” and “prosperous” in the last five years. “The party has performed well and India has risen in the community of nations. (Atal Bihari) Vajpayee is now the Prime Minister of the world,” he said.

Hazarika added that he was “affectionately” asked by the Prime Minister and his deputy, L.K. Advani, to join the party, which he accepted. “For me, humanity comes first and I would like to prove myself as a true son of the Brahmaputra. My dream is to improve the conditions of the Northeast and I’ll do it irrespective of the party I belong to,” he said.

“From tonight, I’ll start thinking about contesting the polls, but whatever the party suggests would be acceptable to me. I will select a constituency where I can work.”

Asked if the Asom Gana Parishad would support him if he were to contest from his hometown Tezpur, Hazarika said he had the support of all communities, including Misings, Karbis and the Bodos. “I have links with people that cut across all communities,” he said.

BJP spokesperson and Union health minister Sushma Swaraj, who played a key role in bringing Hazarika on board, described him as a “diamond”. General secretary Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi and vice-president Pyarelal Khandelwal were the other leaders present on the occasion.

The BJP’s Assam unit president, Indramoni Bora, said in Guwahati the party is preparing a “grand reception” to welcome the maestro when he returns. He added that Hazarika’s entry would have a big impact on the party’s electoral fortunes and claimed it would be followed by several other prominent personalities in the state.

Bora said Hazarika joined after several rounds of talks at various levels, including that of the Prime Minister. “It is up to him in whatever capacity he wants to serve the party. We have no objection if he wants to contest the elections,” Bora added.

Hazarika had been rushed to Delhi after some health complications yesterday and rumours were doing the rounds that he would be admitted to Indraprastha Apollo Hospital today. The decision to join the BJP, however, took everybody by surprise, especially since he was denied nomination for the Rajya Sabha last year.

Swaraj, however, maintained that not everybody could be nominated at once. “Moreover, Dr Hazarika himself said that he was not in the race. The BJP’s graph in the Northeast had gone up when (NCP leader P.A.) Sangma decided to support the NDA. But today is a red letter day for the party,” she said.

Hazarika had a brief stint in politics between 1967 and 72 when he was an Independent MLA. He was closely associated with the Indian Peoples’ Theatre Association, which has Left leanings.

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