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memories

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Rajesh Khanna, Congress leader being weigh against coins during election campaign-. Express photo *** Local Caption *** Rajesh Khanna, Congress leader being weigh against coins during election campaign-. Express photo
I was Kaka’s Media advisor from 1991  till he was in Delhi as a member of parliament and managed his total election during 1991 and there after from the media management point of view and also politically, to an extent, when he contested for the second and third time to finally lose at the hands of the then Union Minister Housing and former Lt. governor of Delhi Jagmohan. There are the number of memories still fresh in my mind when Kaka was rubbing the streets of New Delhi Parliamentary constituency on foot under the scorching sun of 43 degrees Celsius temperature, fully perspiring, while contesting. He was then just a commoner like any common man, easily accessible n to be seen conveniently but always surrounded by huge crowds. The one time Super Star of Bollywood could be usually seen waving at his electorates standing on the balconies of their houses, verandas and on roof tops. His every padayatra or Jeep Yatra enticed hundreds of his fans n followers rushing towards him to have his glance or if possible shake hands with their one-time glamorous super star.
 
The women, girls and the youths thronged in large numbers in his every padayatra n public meetings. New Delhi parliamentary constituency therefore in 1991 n thereafter, when he contested for the second time against BJP’s star candidate Shatrughan Sinha had become a star constituency with two Bollywood stars fighting against each other, trading charges n counter charges. However, Rajesh Khanna won from here defeating Shatru but the election will remain fresh in everybody’s mind, I believe. Kaka while contesting his first election against Advani operated from 15 Canning Lane, and second from the Haryana’s former chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda’s Bungalow, 11, Teen Murti, adjacent to the house of Ahmed Patel, Sonia Gandhi’s Secretary. Bhupinder Hooda was then the MP from Haryana. He thereafter shifted to North Avenue and then to Maharashtra MP Bhonsle’s residence at Lodhi Estate. His last Bungalow, 81 Lodhi Estate which was finally allotted to him was the main centre of his political activities as an elected MP. The entire media print n electronic, particularly the foreign electronic media always trailed KAKA who remained in the media on daily basis on the front and third pages of national dailies.
 
The role of the star wives viz Poonam Sinha n Dimple Kapadia Khanna in extensive campaigning for their respective star husbands is also worth mentioning. Kaka’s daughter n actress Twinkle Khanna was also the star attraction during this historic election. It may be recalled that Kaka lost the first election in 1991 to BJP stalwart Lal Krishna Advani by merely 1500 votes but since the latter opted for his victorious Gandhi Nagar seat, Kaka contested for the second time against BJP’s Shatrughan Sinha n won by a handsome margin. Kaka had an outstandingly charming personality, fair and reddish n delicate as a flower but was strong as well as a perfectly healthy man. He was too hard working, ferocious against his political rival and never gave up during his padayatra and door to door campaigning under the scorching sun. I remember how he started his padayatra on the main roads of Cannaught Place under the scorching heat at eleven o clock, non along with his supporters and high profile Congress leaders without any ifs n buts a continued till one o clock n thereafter during the evening hours in other localities of New Delhi. The Congress leaders accompanying him in these Padyatras would get tired and leave in between but Kaka never got tired and continued with his mission victory. A super star leading a high profile lavish life style in air conditioned rooms was then a common man with boils under his feet. He visited every guru dwara, temple, mosque and church during his campaigning and evening functions of marriages, birthday parties and obituaries. Kaka never discussed films or film related talks while in politics and used to rather avoid them. He was thereafter more a politician than an outstanding actor believing in political matters and problems of his constituency, seriously.
 
Very few people know that it was Kaka who compelled the then finance minister of India Dr. Manmohan Singh during PV Narasimha Rao’s tenure to enhance the income tax exemption limit to one lakh. He met Dr. Singh along with a deputation of the conglomerate of the various residential welfare associations and compelled the then Finance minister to fulfill the demand of the extension of the tax exemption limit from Rs. 60 thousand to 1 lac annually. It was fulfilled by Mr. Singh to the jubilation of the government employees who constituted a very large chunk of his New Delhi constituency. In Kaka’s victory, this factor played an extremely important role.  Kaka had then won against BJP’s star rival Shatrughan Sinha with a large number of votes.
 
SUNIL NEGI

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These are my pictures of the eighties with the former Union Minister ( three time minister, communications, Petroleum n Chemicals n Finance ) n CM UP,  late H.N. Bahuguna, a renowned political stalwart, rather a statesman  ( would not hesitate to say) addressing few of my friend volunteers at his house, 92 Shahjahan Road, New Delhi who’d volunteered to go to Pauri Garhwal constituency  to campaign for him from where he was contesting as an independent candidate (after leaving Congress in a huff but on principles) against the then Congress candidate Chandramohan Singh Negi. This election was postponed after it was rigged n later HN Bahuguna won by over thirty thousand votes, giving a huge rebuff to the then PM Indiraji as under her directives, the then entire central government was  allegedly involved to ensure his defeat. To substantiate my contention,  I would authentically say that the then home minister Gyani Zail Singh, the chief ministers of the then Congress ruled states viz. Arjun Singh, Madhya Pradesh, Bhajan Lal, Haryana, Darbara Singh from Punjab n several other central ministers, MPs n MLAs’ were deployed at Pauri, Srinagar, Karnprayag, Rudraprayag, Kotdwar n Dehradun with the clear instructions that there should be no dearth of resources to ensure Bahuguna’s defeat who was then considered to be the direct political threat to the then leader of the political establishment at the centre i.e. Smt Gandhi herself. The election assumed historic significance because the then election commissioner SL Shakdhar has taken a serious note of the rigging n other serious malpractices at the behest of Congress through the hired goons from several states outside Uttarakhand. The BBC played a pivotal role to highlight the injustices done against the people of Garhwal n Bahuguna by denying them the fundamental right to vote through coercion n threats. The print media too highlighted it extensively demoralising the then ruling Congress Party. However, this was HN’ s last election from Garhwal as he shifted to Allahabad next time to lose at the hands of the political novice, the popular cine actor n international celebrity Amitabh Bachchan who was the Congress candidate. I’ve been privileged to be in close political proximity of HN Bahugunaji from 1979 till his journey to the eternal home.  I along with my several youth volunteers were deputed as the in-charge of Kot n Choundkot blocks of Pauri Garhwal, being Rajput dominated blocks in both the elections n number of the then opposition political dignitaries like Raj Narain, Tarkeshwari Sinha, C Rajeshwar Rao, Chandra Shekhar etc were campaigning from Bahuguna’s side. Am immensely lucky to be under his political guidance n patronage as I got a golden opportunity to learn a  lot from him. Stalwarts like Indira Gandhi n HN Bahuguna take birth once in centuries. Bahuguna transcended all boundaries of caste, community, religion n races. He was the great secular leader, the inventor of Roza Iftar parties in India.  He was above all n as determined n committed as the Himalayas. As per my fb friend  Gajendra Bahugunaji’s version his memories would leave everybody flabbergasted n spell bound.