From actors to lawyers, musicians, cricketers and Page 3 regulars, BJP leader Arun Jaitley is receiving huge support from his non-political friends as he fights what many say is a tough battle — his first shot at electoral politics if one discounts a Delhi University Students Union (DUSU) election decades back.
Jaitley is contesting against Congress candidate and former chief minister Capt Amarinder Singh in Amritsar.
Ever since his candidature was announced, many of his friends, including some from his Lodhi Garden morning walkers’ group, have visited Amritsar to support him. These include senior advocates Mukul Rohatgi, Ranjit Kumar, Maninder Singh, Rajiv Nayar and Raian Karanjawala, santoor maestro Pandit Shiv Kumar Sharma, cricketer Gautam Gambhir, actors Anupam Kher, his wife and BJP candidate from Chandigarh Kirron Kher, Preeti Sapru and Vivek Oberoi, comedian Bharti Singh who hails from the city, Page 3 regular Suhel Seth, and some journalists as well.
While Pandit Shiv Kumar Sharma, who hails from Jammu — Jaitley’s “sasural” — and has close ties with his wife Sangeeta’s family, has been canvassing for him since the start of the campaign, others visit Amritsar on weekends or holidays.
Jaitley’s campaign headquarters, Chadha House on Lawrence Road, is being manned by his friends from Delhi.
“I am from Amritsar and have close ties with many families there… I spent three days in the city and addressed groups of people to tell them why he is the best choice. I am also using this opportunity to understand the dynamics of grassroots politics in that part,” said Seth.
“I have gone to Amritsar twice. Since the time he filed his nomination, there has been a sea change in how the constituency views him. Since he is my friend, I gave him my inputs about his campaign. He is winning,” said Karanjawala.
One person who has been in the constituency almost as long as Jaitley himself is his one-time junior and senior advocate Maninder Singh. “I have relatives in Amritsar. I am doing whatever little I can to help him win… I tell everyone that they would be fortunate to have him as MP,” he said.
Senior Supreme Court lawyer Ranjit Kumar, a Lodhi Garden regular, has been to Amritsar twice. “I go there to extend moral support. He deserves to win,” he said. In the 1996 Lok Sabha elections, Kumar was given charge of the Delhi Cantt Assembly constituency by Kapil Sibal, who lost the South Delhi seat to BJP leader Sushma Swaraj. This time, he said, he would be on the winning side.
Meanwhile, former Karnataka Chief Minister B S Yeddyurappa also tweeted on Tuesday that he was on his way to Amritsar to canvass for Jaitley.