The Telegraph
Monday , March 31 , 2014
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‘I love you’ leaves ladies red-faced but happy

- Actor’s pitch for peace

Hansan (Birbhum), March 30: When a young suitor had said “I love you”, the girl complained to his father and had him punished. When a 48-year-old repeated the words five years later, she could not stop blushing.

Talk of the importance of being an actor — the 48-year-old in question is Joy Banerjee, the BJP candidate for Birbhum.

Villagers, mostly women, in Banerjee’s constituency were today greeted with the three words as they came to shake hands and interact with the actor on the campaign trail.

Embarrassed, a first-time voter who was the first to shake Banerjee’s hands bit her tongue. “I was shocked. He smiled at me and said ‘I love you’. Once a boy had done that when I was in Class VI. I had complained to his father and had him punished. Now what can I do as he (Banerjee) is a star and the BJP candidate as well. I later learnt that it is his habit. He was not serious, I hope.”

Banerjee’s gesture left many of his women voters red in the face. Little did they know that the actor had borrowed the act from one of his own films — Hirak Jayanti, a 1990 hit. In the film, Banerjee, the protagonist, is taught by Ranjit Mallik how to say “I love you” to many a woman in his village.

BJP leaders in Birbhum today said it was the actor’s habit to say “I love you” while interacting with voters.

Mamata Mondal, a homemaker in her twenties, burst into laughter when Banerjee said he loved her. “He is a hero. I liked that he told me I love you. But I can’t tell him the same. I am married,” she grinned.

The actor said his “love” was for all, and not only for women. “Birbhum has seen a lot of violence in the recent past. I am saying I love you to all to make people understand that I want to bring peace here. I think my slogan will continue making people happy,” Banerjee told The Telegraph.

Subhashis Chowdhury, the district general secretary of the BJP who accompanied Banerjee on his campaign today, said: “He is spreading the message of love, which is helping us to reach out to people easily. Every one understands the meaning of those three words. He has chosen the expression from his own hit film Hirak Jayanti. He has turned ‘I love you’ into an election slogan, almost.”