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regular-article-logo Monday, 27 May 2024

LS polls: Hema Malini holds roadshow in Mathura, says it felt like post-victory celebration

Dressed in a green saree, she used a yellow peacock feather motif dupatta to shield herself from the afternoon sun as she stood in an SUV and greeted voters with an elegant namaste

PTI Mathura Published 24.04.24, 09:26 PM
Actress and BJP candidate Hema Malini during a roadshow for Lok Sabha elections in Mathura.

Actress and BJP candidate Hema Malini during a roadshow for Lok Sabha elections in Mathura. PTI picture.

Amid chants of 'Radhe, Radhe' and sweltering heat, actor-turned-politician Hema Malini, seeking a third successive term as Lok Sabha MP from Mathura, on Wednesday held a roadshow that wound its way through the narrow bylanes of the temple town.

Dressed in a green saree, she used a yellow peacock feather motif dupatta to shield herself from the afternoon sun as she stood in an SUV and greeted voters with an elegant namaste.

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Hema Malini waved a cutout of the lotus, the BJP's poll symbol, and reminded voters to exercise their franchise on April 26, when Mathura goes to polls.

An accomplished Bharatanatyam exponent, Hema Malini often showcased the 'flower mudra', gently opening her closed fingers to depict a flowering bud. People gathered in balconies and on rooftops showered rose petals on her carcade which snaked its way through the Chowk Bazaar area, considered the business hub of the old town.

"It (the roadshow) felt like it was a post-victory celebration. The roadshow was very beautifully organised by our party. Everybody, including our alliance partners, participated in it," Hema Malini told reporters after the roadshow.

Hema Malini is pitted against OBC leader Mukesh Dhangar of the Congress, the nominee of the opposition INDIA bloc, and Chaudhary Suresh Singh of the BSP.

"This is a one-sided election. The Congress and the BSP are vying for the second spot," Dinesh Kumar Agrawal, a businessman in the local jewellery market, told PTI as Hema Malini's roadshow crossed the Chowk Bazaar.

While the BJP is banking on the performance of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the star power of Hema Malini, the Congress is seeking votes in the name of change. BSP's Singh, a veteran Jat leader who was earlier with the BJP, is hoping to cash in on the sizeable population of his community in Mathura and his party's committed supporters.

RLD chief Jayant Chaudhary's last-minute decision to align with the BJP has not gone down well with his supporters here and Singh is eyeing this section.

"The Jat community in this region holds RLD founder Chaudhary Charan Singh in high regard. The BJP may benefit from bestowing the Bharat Ratna on him, but local leaders of the RLD are unhappy with Jayant's decision to align with the BJP," said Hemant Chaudhary, a local hotelier.

Among the 19.30 lakh voters in Mathura, the birthplace of Lord Krishna, the Jat community is the most influential with around 5 lakh votes, followed by Rajputs and Brahmins (approximately 3 lakh each), Jatavs (2 lakh), Muslims (1.6 lakh) and OBCs.

A large section of the locals still view Hema Malini as an "outsider" but BJP supporters turned out in large numbers for her roadshow on Wednesday, the last day of campaigning for the second phase of the Lok Sabha polls.

"Vote toh Modi aur Yogi baba ke naam par padna hai, Hema ji toh bahar ki hai (people will vote in the name of Modi and Yogi baba, Hema is an outsider)," local BJP leader Sanjay Bhardwaj said.

Vinod Kumar Gola, who belongs to the Prajapati community of potters, said he will vote for the BJP and listed central government initiatives that have benefited his community.

The Jatav community, considered a staunch supporter of former chief minister and BSP president Mayawati, appears to be firmly backing her party.

"Behen ji ko vote nahi diya toh vote bekar hai (my vote will go waste if I don't vote for behen ji)," said daily labourer Phool Chand Jatav, dismissing concerns over a Jat candidate fielded by the BSP.

BJP corporator Kunjvihari Bhardwaj claimed that the real fight in Mathura was for the second rank as Hema Malini's victory was a "foregone conclusion".

"In 2019, she won by a margin of nearly 3 lakh votes. If the voter turnout is good on the election day, Hema ji can win by even a margin of 5 lakh votes. The Congress and the BSP are in the race for the second spot," he said.

Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by The Telegraph Online staff and has been published from a syndicated feed.

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