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   More interesting than the contest... (October 10, 1991)

More interesting than the contest for the Amethi constituency is likely to be the one for the New Delhi constituency.

In Amethi, not even the most rabid of BJP or Janata Dal supporters can except anything but a Congress-I victory, whether Mrs. Sonia Gandhi stands for the elections or one of her friends does. So, once the suspense on whether she will contest or not has ended, there will be little of interest in the elections.

And I am very certain that Mrs. Gandhi will contest. There must be something of her: no, no, no, till the last moment, then by persuaded to stand for the elections, then accept everything else that comes after it, including the prime minister's job.

But the battle for the New Delhi seat is going to be a different affair. And if Rajesh Khanna and Shatrughan Sinha agree to fight each other, it should be a made-to-order Hindi film script. Hero Vs, villain, the Hindi cinema's biggest hero of yesteryears, and the Hindi cinema's biggest villain of yesteryears. And in thi script it may turn out that the villain wins in the end and rides off into a saffron sunset.

The two are made for their respective roles and Delhi is the right place for them to fight out their battle. In Bombay, the public has become a little indifferent to film stars, especially ex-film stars. And in Allahabad, they would be overawed by them, in spite of having had Amitabh Bachchan.

As for styles, they have extended their film roles into their political careers. Rajesh Khanna is very much the romantic hero, he smiles, he broods, he talks little, expecting his charisma to carry him through, he arrives late for his meetings or does not arrive at all, he makes a big play for women, especially older women, and he evidently manages to charm them, judging from how he very nearly defecated Mr. L.K. Advani in his own constituency and at a time when he (Advance) was all set to become the prime minister.

Shatrughan Sinha is loud, declaiming, wanting to be heard, full of repartee and what he thinks are bon mots, wickedly villainous, he is his own best scriptwriter. And even without make-up he looks his part, a member of the political wing of the Bihari Mafia.

If Rajesh Khanna goes to parliament, he will be another Sunil Dutt or Vyhantimala Bali, sitting quietly and making a speech once in five years, which immediately his party members, unappreciative and illiterate, will swoop on and find fault with and criticise him for. If Shatrughan Sinha goes to parliament, he will be speaking all the time, and his speeches will be featured in boxes in newspapers, because the parliament corespondents, who have an odd sense of humour, would think they are funny.

It is a good thing I do not have to decide who to vote for among the two, since I am not a voter from the New Delhi parliamentary constituency. However, if you ask me who I prefer: For movies - Rajesh Khanna, for politics - Shatrughan Sinha. And that, I think, is the best way to conclude a piece where the villain is also a parallel hero.

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