Competing against the sitting TMC MP and footballer Prasun Banerjee among other heavy weights such as Sreedip Bhattacharya of CPM and Manoj Kumar Pandey of Congress, 68-year-old BJP candidate George Baker said his soft-spoken stature would be his biggest strength at a time when candidates are busy outdoing each other in verbal duels.
“I follow the principle of speak slow, think fast. One can outspeak politely as well. The rising mercury brings in a tendency of dominating through your vocal cords but I think one has to be decent, gentle and strong at the same time,” he said, talking to The Indian Express after filing his nomination on April 2.
His idol, he said, is the former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee. The reason he said for joining politics was because of what the politicians were doing to the state. “I thought I could no longer sit at the fence and watch the game. I need to play and win,” he said.
Baker is one of the few Tollywood faces in BJP. He said, “It gives me an edge. People know me and recognise me immediately. I get a lot of respect and now I feel it is my responsibility to give the people something in return.”
He said during his campaigns he saw so much poverty and so many people living in squalid conditions and the parties that had been in power had done nothing to improve their living standards. Given an opportunity, he said he would like to first address the basic problem of absence of civic amenities.
“There is no public urinal, no proper drinking water facility, the drainage is poorly maintained. These are some of the key issues that need immediate attention,” he said.
Other contenders have started that Baker is an outsider who had no knowledge of the area. To that he said, “Only an outsider would know what is wrong in my house when he visits it. To me it might look picture perfect as I will be used to living in such a condition.
The so called neighbours of the locality who had been at the helm of things failed to make any substantial change for the betterment of people here,” he said.
Baker, who is known to have campaigned for the Congress and TMC earlier, said, “I had developed a strong liking for the principles of the parties but they all swayed from their beliefs. The CPM’s 34-year-old misrule seems to continue under a changed banner,” he said. He added the TMC government which claimed to be secular was creating a divide between Muslims and Hindus.
“It was encouraging to see that about 300 Muslims joined my procession as I was on my way to file my nomination. They are few of a huge number who have realised that the TMC is taking them for a ride,” he added.
26/11: An Express Series