Back in Rampur after a long hiatus, this time as a BJP candidate, actor-turned-politician Jaya Prada says she’s fighting elections to restore the pride of women and free the constituency from the “illegal grip” of her former SP colleague Azam Khan.
The actor, who is seeking a third term from the Rampur Lok Sabha seat, said things have become much easier for her this time with BJP cadres around her.
The former Samajwadi Party leader won from Rampur in 2004 and 2009 but lost from Bijnor in 2014 when she contested on a Rashtriya Lok Dal ticket.
I have an emotional attachment with the people of Rampur. I am here to work for them and make Narendra Modi our prime minister once again while Azam is fighting election to legalise his acts,” Prada told PTI in an interview.
“I also want to ensure development of the constituency,” she added.
In 2004, Prada made history when she won the Rampur seat for the first time for the SP by defeating sitting Congress MP Begum Noor Bano by 85,000 votes. And now she is back to familiar territory, but as a BJP candidate.
With the BJP cadres with me, things have become much easier. I had to manage things earlier on my own but with the cadre support this time, it is quite easy to manage them.
The actor, who made a mark in southern cinema as well as in Bollywood, hit out at Khan for his derogatory statements.
He can say anything. He did not have any respect for women. It’s his habit to make such statements but the people of Rampur know him very well. They dislike what he says and will reply to him with their votes, she said.
In 2004, when I was in Mumbai (acting in Bollywood) and contested from here, he campaigned for me. Didn’t he know me then? He now calls me ‘amrapali’ (dancer), ‘nachne wali’ etc. It’s his habit, he can say anything to any women. He is a performer himself.
About the response she is getting from the people of Rampur, Prada said the Jatavs and the Dalits are unhappy with the SP and are backing the BJP.
“Azam, who has been nine-time MLA from Rampur, has done nothing for rural areas. He had been a Cabinet minister but rural areas still lack development as he did nothing, she added.
In a clear reference to Khan, often in the news for his controversial remarks, Prada said those who call Bharat Mata ‘dayan’ (demon), who do not acknowledge Kashmir as part of India and use foul language against the prime minister and Chief Minister YOgi Adityanath stand exposed before the people.
She said she was fighting the poll for restoration of women’s pride and freeing Rampur from the illegal grip of Azam Khan”.
Responding to criticism from rivals who call her an outsider, Prada retorted, “How can I be outsider? I represented the constituency in 2004 and 2009. I have been with the people in their good and bad times. They (rivals) are trying to confuse people but they are certainly not confused. They have made up their mind.
Asked whether she missed colleague and friend Amar Singh in her campaign, the actor expressed concern about his health.
“I pray for his speedy recovery. May he be fine, she said.
“I am sure the people of Rampur will once again give me a chance to represent them, she added.
The minority-dominated Lok Sabha constituency in western Uttar Pradesh goes to the polls in the third phase on April 23.
The Congress has fielded Sanjay Kapoor from Rampur, with many saying it is a direct one on one between Prada and Khan, a nine-time MLA from the Rampur assembly seat.
Rampur was a Congress stronghold from 1952 to 1989 before the BJP won it for the first time in 1991.
The Congress, however, managed to wrest it back in 1996 by fielding Begum Noor Bano.
In 1998, BJP’s Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi won the seat. The following year, Begum Noor Bano got it back for the Congress again.
The SP made its entry in Rampur in 2004, fielding Jaya Prada who defeated Noor Bano by a big margin.