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Govinda, brush up your neta act!
Vijay Singh in Mumbai | March 09, 2005 22:16 IST
Film star and parliamentarian Govinda may have been a great hit with the people of Jharkhand and Bihar, where he was campaigning for the Congress during the assembly elections, but in his North Mumbai constituency, things are not looking good for the first-time MP.
Here are a few problems:
- He is inaccessible. Govinda doesn't have an office in his constituency, and the one he has in Juhu, a Mumbai suburb, is closed most of the time.
- His friend and political advisor, Shashi Prabhu, has left him.
Govinda's brother, producer-director Kirti Ahuja, has replaced Prabhu but he is yet to figure out how to go about the job.
- Factionalism is rife amidst the lower rung Congress functionaries in his constituency.
With the Congress local elections round the corner, there is heavy lobbying from various quarters for the district president's post.
The catch is Ahuja also wants that post.
- Govinda has not done any favours to those in his constituency. This has not gone down well with those who have approached the MP for 'recommendation letters'.
On February 20, when this reporter visited Govinda's Juhu office, his production manager A Narayan was waiting outside. He had been there for more than an hour.
"Govinda has taken the keys with him, or else I would have asked you to sit inside," Narayan said.
Two others, who had come from Manor, 100 km away, were also waiting for Govinda.
One of them, Kishor Patil said, "It's bad that he does not have an office in his constituency, and it is even worse that we have to wait for him on the road like this."
Govinda, on the other hand, says he is unable to find the right person to take care of his office. "There is nobody I can entrust the management of my office to. I am afraid somebody might misuse my office when I am not around," Govinda said.
But observers say that in the past things were not like this for the man who entered politics with a bang, defeating Bharatiya Janata Party giant Ram Naik in the Lok Sabha election.
During those days Prabhu -- who recently contested the assembly election from the Borivali assembly constituency and lost -- used to handle visitors and Congress workers.
Ahuja, too, had demanded a party ticket for the assembly election, but was denied.
This coupled with Prabhu's popularity among party workers did not go down well with Ahuja.
Insiders say a recent tiff between Ahuja and Prabhu was the last straw.
Prabhu had to step out.
Ahuja then took over and has since been managing Govinda's political affairs with the help of his cousins, Shankar Singh and Rakesh Singh.
When contacted, Prabhu said, "There are no differences between Govinda and me."
There is also a lot of infighting.
"Nobody wants to work with me. There is no discipline among the Congress workers and office-bearers in our constituency. And few of the top leaders are encouraging such factions," said Ratna Pillai, Congress North Mumbai president.
The local elections are scheduled in March-April and everybody is eying Pillai's post.
Ahuja is one of them. If he does not get that post, he will want something in Maharashtra Housing Area Development Authority.
"Many people are trying for the district president's post. Someone from Andheri (Ahuja lives there), which is outside our district, is also trying hard for the post. But I am sure the party will give me one more chance because I am the only woman district president in Mumbai," said Pillai.
If at all Govinda manages to address all these problems, he will have to do a lot more to keep the people of his constituency happy. They want favours from the MP.
"How can he recommend anyone when he is not familiar with the person. The letter can be misused. But whenever possible, he will call and put in a word to help those really in need," said Pillai.
But Prabhu says Govinda has a good reason not to meet the public. "Govinda is doing a good job. But most of the time, people just want to take a photograph with Govinda the film star, which is useless. So he avoids meeting people."
"I am accessible on my mobile phone and residence. If someone has a genuine problem, they can approach me at my residence," said Govinda.
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