By Subhash K Jha
MUMBAI: Actor Raj Babbar, who is the Congress candidate from Ghaziabad and pitted against former army chief Gen A.K. Singh (BJP) and Shazia Ilmi (AAP), is roping his two sons – Aarya and Pratiek – for campaigning.
“They are busy with their lives. I’ve asked them to join me. If they come I’ll be happy. If they don’t I’d still be happy,” says Raj Babbar.
Not one to lose his cool easily the very calm-and-composed Raj Babbar was the other day caught shouting angrily at cops during an election gathering in the actor’s Ghaziabad constituency.
The video footage captures Raj Babbar shouting angrily though not the least abusively at cops asking them why they were videographing his speech when there were criminals running around scot-free .
The Ghaziabad police has taken strong exception to Rajji’s outburst and an investigation into the matter has been ordered.
However Raj Babbar has a completely different story. Claiming to be a victim of overzealous administrative intervention, Rajji says, “When I asked the cops why they were videographing me I was not being high-handed. I was making a legitimate point. The Election Commission rules that PUBLIC speeches of election candidates be videographed. But I was not in a public place. I was at a Congress corporator’s residence and the law under Section 144 did apply there. I was informally addressing my party colleagues at a private gathering and not making a public speech.There was no public-address system, no loudspeakers. It was just me talking informally with my colleagues. They had no right to videograph me.”
Babbar says the entire episode happened at the instigation of an individual from a rival political party. “Close to the home where I was addressing my colleagues from the Congress there is the residence of a Samajwadi Party politician. He informed the cops about my presence. I am one of the most law-abiding politicians on the land. You won’t find me in any scuffle anywhere. This whole thing has been blown out of proportion to malign me. There are many political elements from rival parties in around my constituency who can’t digest the fact that an honest politician can do his job sincerely and effectively and still be elected from the same constituency four times.”
According to Babbar, his fight is not for power. “I am here as a politician not because I want to use this platform for monetary and other benefits.I am here to fight for the rights of farmers. I’ve taken on the most powerful business lobby, of the Ambanis, and the very powerful political lobby of the Samajwadi Party in Uttar Pradesh . My fight for famers is to the finish.”
Recently Raj Babbar and his supporters forced their way into a field owned by Ambanis’ Reliance group and symbolically ploughed the land to indicate no one but farmers had right over the land.
Says Rajji, “It was almost like the screenplay of a film, how we reached Bajhera close to the acquired land, hid the tractor and ploughs and then descended on the land to plough it early in the morning. I have been fighting this desperate war on behalf of farmers from the time I was elected for the first time. This is my fifth successive attempt to fight the Lok Sabha elections. I will continue with my war against the powerful industrial lobby until my dying breath. My entire being belongs to the mitti of Ghaziabad.”
Raj Babbar who was one of the first Bollywood personalities to storm into politics says he is happy to see so many of his colleagues from the movies coming into politics. “There was a time when only the intelligentsia–lawyers, doctors, teachers were allowed into politics. Now the spectrum of professionals in politics has broadened. Today politics needs dynamic professionals from all walks of life. I am glad my colleagues are coming into politics. It wasn’t me who started this influx from show business. Before me there were distinguished actors turned parliamentarians like Karunanidhi, MGR, Shivaji Ganesan and Jayalalitha.”
In the North Rajji would like to follow the example set by Sunil Dutt. “Dutt Saab’s honesty integrity and ideological firmness made him a role model for all future merger between the entertainment industry and politics. If I can achieve even a fraction of his transparency in politics I’d be happy.”
Raj Babbar says a lot of film folks have done well for themselves. “Besides me there is Rajesh Khanna, Shatrughan Sinha, Jaya Prada. Hema Malini…I think all these personalities from cinema prove there’s more to show business than just show.”