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Characters from 1975 film ‘Sholay’ spice up Madhya Pradesh assembly elections

The Opposition Congress and the ruling BJP are accusing each other of looting the state drawing parallels with the film’s characters, who were associated with crime in some way or the other

PTI Bhopal Published 02.11.23, 04:18 PM
Representational image.

Representational image. File

Popular characters from the 1975 Hindi blockbuster ‘Sholay’ have entered the political discourse ahead of the November 17 Madhya Pradesh assembly elections.

The Opposition Congress and the ruling BJP are accusing each other of looting the state drawing parallels with the film’s characters, who were associated with crime in some way or the other.

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The Congress said the “bonhomie” between its state president Kamal Nath and senior leader Digvijaya Singh was akin to the bond shared by ‘Jai’ and ‘Veeru’, played by Amitabh Bachchan and Dharmendra respectively, in the film, while Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan said Jai and Veeru were fighting over the distribution of “plundered booty”.

Nath termed Chouhan ‘Gabbar Singh', the movie’s lead villain.

Elections to the 230-member Madhya Pradesh assembly will be held in a single phase on November 17.

Noted scriptwriter and filmmaker Rumi Jaffery told PTI, “It is a matter of satisfaction to us that dialogues and characters picturised by us decades back in films like Sholay or ‘Mughal-e-Azam’ are still relevant and people are using them even today. These characters are timeless and will remain in the world.” The Jai-Veeru duo entered the political arena in the state after a protest over ticket distribution led Nath to make his “tear clothes of Digvijaya Singh and his son Jaivardhan Singh” remark. It sparked speculation that all was not well between the two former Congress chief ministers.

Responding to a question about the matter, Congress general secretary in-charge of Madhya Pradesh Randeep Singh Surjewala equated the friendship between Nath and Singh with the one shared by Jai and Veeru.

The BJP seized the opportunity to hit back at the grand old party on the issue.

CM Chouhan took a swipe at Singh and Nath, referring to them as Sholay’s Jai and Veeru, who he said were fighting between themselves over the distribution of “plundered booty”.

Veteran journalist Girija Shankar told PTI, “It is a needless controversy and Chouhan should not have entered into it. By targeting Jai-Veeru (Nath and Digvijaya), he (Chouhan) automatically became Gabbar as Jai-Veeru were known for their friendship and not remembered as thieves.” Chouhan invoked the characters after reports said Singh and Nath were in Delhi on Tuesday to meet the Congress leadership.

In a video statement shared on his X account, Chouhan said, “Jai-Veeru duo was called to Delhi. As newspapers reported, they (Congress leaders) are saying that the BJP is creating confusion (about differences between Nath and Singh). Why has Delhi (Congress leadership) called them? Jai and Veeru are fighting between themselves over the 'loot ka maal'”.

Chouhan alleged that even before 2003, when the BJP formed the government in MP, “Mr Bantadhar” (as the BJP calls Digvijaya Singh) looted and destroyed the entire state.

“Even during the 15-month rule, Kamal Nath ji turned Madhya Pradesh into a centre of plundering. Now the dispute is only about who will be the next to loot and how and who will get what type of share in it (the booty). Delhi is also involved in this,” Chouhan alleged.

Nath then took to X for a retort. “Shivraj ji, It was Jai and Veeru who settled scores with the tyrannical Gabbar Singh. Madhya Pradesh has been suffering from atrocities for 18 years. The time has come for the end of tyranny. Rest you are sensible...” Reacting to Chouhan’s remark, Singh said it’s better to leave all this and focus on the main issues.

“For the last 20 years, they (BJP govt) looted the state the way Gabbar Singh used to loot. Don't get into it. Issues are not Jai-Veeru or Gabbar Singh. The issue is that in the last 20 years, people are too tired because of their corruption, falsehood, cheating and scams like Vyapam and the recent patwari exam and unemployment,” he said.

The BJP claimed that they have pulled up MP from the BIMARU (laggard) state category but nothing happened if one looks at the health and the education sector in the state, said Singh.

“During the Corona crisis, a large number of people died because of non-availability of oxygen. Instead of talking in a filmy style, they should focus on the main issues in the elections,” Singh said.

State BJP president Vishnu Dutt Sharma blamed the Congress for introducing Sholay’s characters in the state politics during elections.

“I have been talking about development and poor welfare and this (Jai Veeru) was given by them only as their in-charge had taken these names. Congress only does one thing.. to deviate people's attention from the issues of development and poor people's welfare,” Sharma 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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