Sunday Interview: ‘Do you ask Modi if he is eyeing Hindu votes? Then why me?’
He has turned two shades darker and is now more than six kilos lighter. But Javed Jafri, Bollywood actor-turned-politician, has not lost his spunk nor his conviction. In an interview after a rigorous campaign that culminated with polling in Lucknow, the AAP leader bared his heart and soul to Amita Verma.
How has your experience of contesting from Lucknow been?
It has not been a novel experience in the true sense of the term because I have been connecting with people from all strata of society and from different states through my TV show Boogie Woogie. In Lucknow, I have connected more directly with the people, understood their problems more directly and have realised that the root of all problems is corruption and criminalisation. I succeeded in convincing them that we are here to fight against the system and not against any individual.
It is believed that the Bharatiya Janata Party president Rajnath Singh was instrumental in getting you to Lucknow so that you could cut into Muslim votes and blunt the Opposition for him?
When I decided to contest from here, I knew that the dirty tricks department would begin its work. Rumours about me being a Rajnath candidate were floated around, there were unnecessary controversies about my taking a house on rent, on getting my voter card made, but I was prepared for it all. Why would I come from Mumbai to Lucknow, leaving my work, to help a rival by toiling so hard?
What is one big lesson that you have learnt from your campaign in Lucknow?
Not a lesson but a realisation that the people, during elections, talk about caste, community, religion, but no one talks of the country. I was told that I would get Muslim votes because I was a Muslim. The moment my candidature was announced, people asked me if I had come for Muslim votes. When Narendra Modi decided to contest, did anyone ask him if he had come for Hindu votes? Wherever I went to campaign, they would discuss issues related to their community and caste, but no one seemed concerned about the future of the country.
Besides, everyone has become immune to corruption — there is no planning commission, it is the planning of the commission that is more important.
Why did you agree to contest against a stalwart, Rajnath Singh, when you could have chosen a “safer” constituency?
The AAP is fighting against the system and not just individuals and so am I. To be frank, I never expected the kind of response and love I got from the people here. I never bothered who my rivals were and what would be the result of this battle. I never spoke a word against my political opponent because the target was clear in my mind — main sirf machhli ki aankh dekh raha hoon. I know that you cannot banish the truth permanently, you can only cloud it temporarily.
People generally believe that film stars come, fight elections and then disappear. What about you?
A lot of people asked me this question and then I signed an affidavit saying that if elected, I would stay six months in a year in Lucknow and six months in Mumbai because that is where I earn my bread and butter from. Politics for me is not business but a movement of which I am happy to be a part. Today, what has happened is that 800 people in Parliament — known as public servants — have turned into masters, while 120 crore masses have turned into servants. There is no accountability left in the system and we are trying to awaken the masses on these issues.
Why has the AAP lost its goodwill so soon?
Twenty per cent is our fault, but it is the media that is 80 per cent responsible for this. Rome was not built in a day and Arvind Kejriwal could not be expected to work magic in such a short time. Yet he did so much in this short span of time. Had he not resigned, the media would have accused him of sticking to power, and when he did, you people accused him of running away. Yeh fitrat hai jo jaldi nahin badlegi.