Choosing Lok Sabha seat to stay close to daughter & other secrets of Hema Malini's political journey
Getting work and recognition in the Hindi film industry for half a century at a stretch is no mean feat. And this is what made Hema Malini's position in the industry unmatched. Her political career, however, is only a little over a decade old and has been pretty lacklustre. Her recently released authorised biography, Hema Malini: Beyond the Dream Girl, written by Ram Kamal Mukherjee, throws considerable light on the reasons behind the lack of sheen associated with her political career.
The 'dream girl' was introduced to politics by her friend and colleague in the film industry, the late Vinod Khanna. Khanna was a BJP Parliamentarian who represented Punjab's Gurdaspur and was facing the displeasure of his electorate in 1999. His popularity had come down because of a long absence from his constituency and the perception that he hadn't done much work there.
To throw in some fresh energy in his campaign, Khanna turned to Malini and appealed to her to campaign for him. The actress readily agreed, reached Gurdaspur and presented herself to the people there as “Punjab ki bahu”. “Dharam ji has sent me here, she said referring to Dharmendra, her husband and a son of the Punjabi soil.
The campaign was a hit and Khanna eventually won the election.
The BJP-led Union government went on to nominate Malini as a member of the Rajya Sabha in August 2003. Malini officially joined the party six months later, became a general secretary in 2010 and got the ticket to contest her first Lok Sabha polls in 2014. That was the year of the Narendra Modi wave and she won the polls from Mathura, defeating RLD's Jayant Chaudhary by over three lakh votes.
In spite of the victory, her choice of seat was strange given that she is not from Mathura and has no family connections there either. Thanks to author Ram Kamal Mukherjee, Malini has for the first time revealed the real reason.
She has said she was given a choice of three seats and she chose Mathura because she thought her daughter will settle down in Delhi after her marriage. Being MP from Mathura would allow her to be close to her daughter.
This is a remarkable reason for selection of a seat for election to a Parliament that makes the fortunes of a nation of a billion people.
Over half of Malini's tenure in the Lok Sabha is over. Whether she succeeded in winning the hearts of her electorate will be revealed only when she faces the polls again. However, what is known is that she has been a reluctant Parliamentarian. She has not introduced any private member Bill and has neither made any noticeable contribution to any debate.
A glamour-queen is not expected to be comfortable with the crowd, dust and filth that rural India. However, Malini's experience with the rough and tumble of India's politics too appears to have failed to make her appreciative of the reality in which the largest number of Indians live.
She appears to be perpetually in grudge-mode as she complains how she got toilets built in Mathura but the locals turned them into storehouses and how she got 'Kent' RO purifiers installed but the locals used water from it to wash their buffaloes.
For the introvert that Malini is, she has faced many controversies linked with her conduct throughout her public life. The book touches upon all of them and, interestingly, the author puts up Malini's best defence possible. Some of them being –
– She received a lot of flak over allegations of land-grabbing for her dance school in Mumbai.
– She was criticised for asking why widows from Bengal and Bihar flock to Vrindavan and do not stay in their own states.
– She also hit the headlines for rushing for a film-shoot at a time when violence broke out in Jawahar Bagh in her constituency that killed 24 people and injured 300.
– In July 2015, the car in which Malini was travelling was involved in a road accident in Rajasthan. Malini received injuries while a two-year-old girl was killed. The victim's family members claimed that it was the car that caused the accident and neither the actor nor her staff sought to know about the condition of the child. Malini, in fact, blamed the victim's father for the mishap.
Vajpayee - her hero, her fan
Despite Malini's controversial public career, BJP and its senior leadership has always been fond of its most glamorous star.
Malini has told Mukherjee in the book that she admired former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee “a lot” and asked one of his office-bearers to take her to him, after she joined the party.
She met the veteran at his office with much enthusiasm but found him “hesitant to talk”. Confused, she sought to know from others the reason behind his apparent lack of interest. Her sense of disappointment turned into glee later when she was told it was Vajpayee who was a big admirer of her films and was tongue-tied after coming face to face with someone whom he had always seen as a star.
Vajpayee had reportedly seen Seeta aur Geeta 25 times and had seen Razia Sultan at his ancestral home along with sixty relatives!
Edited by Jhinuk Sen