M A I N   N E W S

A song on their lips, a prayer in their hearts
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 10
Leave politics to the politicians is what once bitten twice shy Sufi singer Hans Raj Hans has to say to artistes trying their luck in the political arena in the Punjab Assembly elections.

But the artistes are determined to deliver a poll punch. They claim to be different and are confident their fate would also differ from that of their predecessors.

Punjab does not have a history of supporting artistes in politics, however big the name. Hans Raj Hans unsuccessfully contested the last Parliamentary elections from Jalandhar. Folk legend, the late Kuldeep Manak bit the dust when he contested the 1996 parliamentary elections as an Independent from Bathinda.

So what’s different this time? Well, artistes in the fray claim to understand politics better.

Former stand-up comic and People’s Party of Punjab (PPP) Lehragaga candidate Bhagwant Mann says he has been a social critic throughout his career. “I quit the entertainment industry to enter the poll fray and worked as a political activist for 11 months,” he says.

Known for his support to environment causes, including contamination of ground water, Mann, 38, says he had always wanted to be part of the process to cleanse the system, which is why he chose to join Manpreet Badal’s PPP.

Bhagwant says the Congress’ Lehra candidate and Congress Legislature Party leader Rajinder Kaur Bhattal has done nothing for the constituency in 19 years. He promises to be the catalyst for change. And yes, his comic sense does help him connect with the masses, like his parody on ‘Kolavari Di’, a hit with the young in Lehra.

Bhadaur Congress candidate and noted Punjabi singer Mohammad Sadiq has been a part-time Congress activist for as far as he can remember. The 70-year-old was a regular on stage with former Chief Minister Beant Singh and says his association with the Congress dates back to Jawaharlal Nehru.

Sadiq, pitted against DS Guru, ex-principal secretary to the CM, says he is banking on his four-decade connection with people of the area.

Fellow singer Karamjit Anmol, who will be campaigning for him, says Sadiq is at a definite advantage given his unique connect with the rural masses through his simple folksy image coupled with astute political acumen, something he claims Guru is still to acquire. “His hits ‘Aa gayi roadways di laari’ or ‘Putt jattan de driver truckran de’ are evergreen and still tug at the heart strings of people in rural Punjab,” adds Anmol.

Another artist in the fray is ‘I am Singh’ star Arshad Dally. The BSP’s Amargarh candidate is the brother of Malerkotla Congress legislator Razia Sultana. The model-cum-actor is banking on the fact that he has always played meaningful roles in cinema -- be it ‘I am Singh’ or Punjabi flick ‘Wagah’ on the plight of war widows. Hans Raj Hans, who turned apolitical after his 2009 defeat at the hands of Mohinder Kaypee from Jalandhar, says, “Jiska kaam usi ko saaje (things are best left to those who are skilled to do them).” 





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