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The Rediff Election Interview/Bappi Lahiri
March 18, 2004
Clad in a white silk churidar and matching achkan Bollywood composer Bappi Lahiri walked into the media room at the Congress party headquarters in Delhi on Thursday.
Accompanied by his wife, son Bappa and daughter Rima, the man who made disco famous in Bollywood joined the party. In attendance were industrialist and the Congress party's Bollywood pointman T Subbirami Reddy and senior leader Salman Khurshid.
The composer said he would devote a full month to campaign for his 'childhood' party.
In an exclusive interview with Chief Correspondent Onkar Singh, Lahiri said he was overwhelmed by the courage and determination shown by Congress chief Sonia Gandhi during her road shows.
Why have you joined the Congress party?
Ever since my childhood days in Kolkata, where I was born, I had seen my father interacting with Congressmen. Congress is a culture and I would love to be part of it. It had been my dream that I should be part of the Congress family and I am happy that me and my family and are now part and parcel of the great party.
Why now? Why not earlier?
Everything has a time and I think the time has come for me to join the Congress.
Is it because you have nothing else to do?
No. That is not true. I would be campaigning for the Congress for one month as per the direction of senior Congress leaders and my leader Sonia Gandhi. In between I would go back to the studios and continue to record songs.
What is it that you like about Sonia Gandhi?
Sonia Gandhi is great. She is adorable. I am overwhelmed by the response that she is getting during her road shows. Never before in the history of independent India has any woman leader barring Mrs Indira Gandhi undertaken such road shows. She has walked with the poor women and gone to their houses. She had listened to their problems and shared their concerns. No woman political leader has done what she is doing. I have great respect for this lady and it is for her that I am joining the Congress party.
The BJP calls her a foreigner.
It is very evident from the way the Bharatiya Janata Party and its leaders are talking against her that they are scared. They are scared of a lady called Sonia Gandhi. She is giving them a run for their money by resorting to road shows and reaching out to the poor and downtrodden. The competition will be tough. That is my prediction. I feel the Congress is going to win this battle.
Television anchor and comedian Shekhar Suman has alleged that film stars and television artistes who are joining political parties are taking money to do so. Do you agree with him?
I have not been influenced by any monetary considerations whatsoever. I don't think the other artistes who have joined either the Congress or BJP have got money. Those who have come must have felt they should join one party or the other. I would not give much credence to such allegations.
Do you think Bollywood is getting divided into two groups -- the Congress and BJP?
The division in Bollywood is now very evident and nobody can deny this anymore. Artistes can be influenced by different ideologies. I have joined the Congress party after working for 25 years. I joined because of my conviction. No other motive.
Will you be taking your musicians along when you campaign for the party?
No, I won't take musicians along. Bappi Lahiri has a voice that alone is loud and musical enough to sway people. I have given music in 435 films so far and a majority of my numbers have been hits. My numbers are in the top 10 list even in the USA.