No 'khota kaam', promises politician Paresh Rawal
He’s a versatile actor and is now looking to bring his onscreen persona to politics. Batting for the ‘incorruptible’ Narendra Modi, and slamming opponents -- the Congress and the Aam Aadmi Party -- Paresh Rawal, BJP’s face from Ahmedabad, is speaking the language of a neta, already.
Is it true that you are joining hands with Narendra Modiji in Gujarat as the Bharatiya Janata Party’s Lok Sabha candidate from Ahmedabad?
Yes, it’s true. I’ve decided to get into active politics on Narendra Modiji’s request. I don’t know how successful I will be, but I’ll give it my best shot. I don’t believe in half-measures.
If I am not mistaken you were all set to play Modi in a biopic?
Yes! I am playing Modiji. They are working on the script. It was written and then re-written. Until I feel the script does justice to his life and politics I won’t venture into it.
You are such a busy actor. How will manage to find the long hours that elections demand?
You are right. Time management would be a devil of a problem. Luckily, I have a good network in Gujarat. I am on good terms with some of Modiji’s party workers. They will be more than happy to help me out. They are honest people.
Would you be dividing your time between Mumbai and Ahmedabad?
I won’t have to be present in my constituency regularly. But at the same time I will be there far more than people expect because I have a deep cultural connection with Gujarat. On an average, I am in Gujarat at least three to four days a month for my shows. Even without a political career I spend about a month and a half per year in Gujarat. Whenever I am in Gujarat for my shows I can put aside time to work for my constituency.
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Image: Actor Paresh Rawal will contest for the BJP from Ahmedabad, Gujarat
'Modi is incorruptible; it's an invaluable virtue in politics'
There is a generally a lot of scepticism regarding entertainers in Parliament?
Why should that be? I think Raj Babbarji, Jaya Bachchanji and Hema Maliniji attend Parliament religiously. As for the others, jissko kaam nahin karna hai ussko bhejoge toh phir gadbad toh honi hai. (If you send those to don’t want to work (to Parliament), it’s bound to spell trouble.)
One expects nothing less than complete dedication from you in politics…
And that is a promise I am making to you and to everyone who will vote for me. If I am voted into power I’ll be visiting my constituency more than most other MPs.
You have a very clean public image…
And I will never allow that image to be sullied.
Tell me a bit about your association with Modi?
Sabse badi baat hai ke bandaa incorruptible hai. (Modi’s biggest asset is that he is incorruptible). That virtue is rare and invaluable in politics. We are not close friends, but I’ve campaigned for him.
My wife (actor Swaroop Sampat) works in the field of education in Gujarat. I am also involved in community work in the state. You won’t find me hankering for property or other assets. I do my work with sincerity. Modiji must have seen my honesty. He needs honest people to be honest with him.
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Image: Supporters of Narendra Modi in Ahmedabad
Photographs: Amit Dave/Reuter
'If after 65 yrs, you can't provide drinking water you should be ashamed'
The 2002 communal riots in Gujarat are often brought up against Modi…
Let the cynics and the critics go on flogging that horse. Even the Supreme Court has cleared him. The 2002 spectre is raised only to create a negative perception about Modiji.
Will you be campaigning extensively for the BJP?
This offer to contest elections has come all of a sudden and I have film commitments lined up. In fact, I was shooting with Rishi Kapoor in Gujarat when this announcement happened. I will campaign in Gujarat. But I don’t think I’ll have the time to campaign anywhere else. The one thing that I guarantee is, whatever would be humanly possible for me to do I’ll do for my constituency.
There is a lot pessimism and cynicism in today’s voter about Indian politics?
The Congress had the opportunity to do a lot of good. It isn’t as if they didn’t have good people in the party. God knows why they failed. If after 65 years of governance you cannot provide drinking water to everyone then you should be ashamed of yourself.
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Image: Paresh Rawal slams the Congress for not being able to provide basic facilities
Photographs: Adnan Abidi/Reuters
'Kejriwal naach na aawe aangan tedha kar ke bhaag gaye'
Arvind Kejriwal has also been a letdown…
Mujhe bhi bahut ummeed thhi. Lekin jiss terah se woh naach na aawe aangan tedha kar ke bhaag gaye...bahut bura lagaa. (I had a lot of hopes. But the way he blamed circumstances and quit ... I felt very bad.) Why did he raise issues that he knew would have to go through proper legal channels? Just good intentions don’t mean good governance. He wasn’t what he promised to be.
Would we see less of you on screen now?
No, not at all. I am an actor first and foremost. Even without my involvement in politics, I was staying away from sub-standard work. Over the past two years I’ve only taken up three projects. I will always be on the lookout for good roles. Bahut bhookha actor hoon. (I am an actor who is always hungry for more.) I will not hesitate to take up good film offers.
And your new role as a politician?
Kahin bhi rahun mujhse khota kaam nahin hoga. (Whatever be my profession I will never be able to cheat.)
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Image: Rawal says he had a lot of hopes from AAP's Arvind Kejriwal