Nath and Singh are Sholays Jai Veeru in MP politics; Bollywood spices up state polls
Yeh dosti hum nahi todenge! : Congress is trying hard to dispel the speculation that all is not well between the two former Congress chief ministers

Nath and Singh are Sholay's 'Jai Veeru' in MP politics; Bollywood spices up state polls

The Congress first equated the bond shared by the two stalwarts, Kamal Nath and Digvijaya Singh, with the ultimate 'dosts' in Indian cinema, Jai and Veeru from the iconic film, 'Sholay'

Political parties in Madhya Pradesh, ahead of the assembly polls in the state, fall back on Bollywood when in trouble, it seems. And, reel life, not real life recently entered the political discourse in Madhya Pradesh politics.

The Congress, who is desperate to show that all is well between its state president Kamal Nath and senior leader Digvijaya Singh, equated the bond shared by these two leaders with the ultimate "dost" duo in Indian cinema, Jai and Veeru, played by Amitabh Bachchan and Dharmendra respectively, in the iconic film Sholay.

Reel life takes over political discourse

Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan, who did not want to be left out of the frame, quickly jumped into the Jai and Veeru joyride, to yell on rally podiums that Nath and Singh like the petty criminals from reel life that they have been likened to, were actually squabbling over the distribution of “plundered booty”.

Nath, still stalking Sholay, quickly made Chouhan the villain in this drama - Gabbar Singh, the bad guy from the blockbuster!

The fact that nearly fifty years later, popular characters from the 1975 Hindi blockbuster ‘Sholay’ are being bandied about ahead of the November 17 Madhya Pradesh assembly elections, is not just a tribute to the scriptwriters Salim-Javed, but also points to the kind of issues dominating the political discourse in the state.

Elections to the 230-member Madhya Pradesh assembly will be held in a single phase on November 17.

Bollywood, naturally, is only too happy. Noted scriptwriter and filmmaker Rumi Jaffery told PTI, “It is a matter of satisfaction to us that dialogues and characters picturised by us decades back in films like Sholay or ‘Mughal-e-Azam’ are still relevant and people are using them even today. These characters are timeless and will remain in the world.”

Damage control

An ingenuous Congress trying to do damage control after a protest over ticket distribution led Nath to make his “tear clothes of Digvijaya Singh and his son Jaivardhan Singh” remark, drummed up this idea to compare the squabbling duo to Jai and Veeru in 'Sholay'. It sparked speculation that all was not well between the two former Congress chief ministers.

Though, Digvijay had tried to underplay the discord by posting on X: "There have been differences of opinion… it is natural for two friends to have differences of opinion. But there is no discord.”

When he was cornered by the media about the discord between the two leaders, Congress general secretary in-charge of Madhya Pradesh Randeep Singh Surjewala, it seems, had no recourse but to fall back on a Bollywood blockbuster. And, equated the bond between Nath and Singh with the one shared by Jai and Veeru. They argued but they had each other's backs.

BJP, however, took a swipe at this picture of a rosy 'dosti' (friendship).

Calling Nath and Singh as Jai and Veeru, CM Chouhan said the two were fighting between themselves like petty criminals over the distribution of “plundered booty”.

Needless controversy

The media had a field day over the shooting from the hip quips using Ramesh Sippy's 'Sholay'. But veteran journalist Girija Shankar told PTI, “It is a needless controversy and Chouhan should not have entered into it. By targeting Jai-Veeru (Nath and Digvijaya), he (Chouhan) automatically became Gabbar as Jai-Veeru were known for their friendship and not remembered as thieves.”

Chouhan invoked the characters after reports said Singh and Nath were in Delhi on Tuesday to meet the Congress leadership.

In a video statement shared on his X account, Chouhan said, “Jai-Veeru duo was called to Delhi. As newspapers reported, they (Congress leaders) are saying that the BJP is creating confusion (about differences between Nath and Singh). Why has Delhi (Congress leadership) called them? Jai and Veeru are fighting between themselves over the 'loot ka maal'”.

Chouhan alleged that even before 2003, when the BJP formed the government in MP, “Mr Bantadhar” (as the BJP calls Digvijaya Singh) looted and destroyed the entire state.

“Even during the 15-month rule, Kamal Nath ji turned Madhya Pradesh into a centre of plundering. Now the dispute is only about who will be the next to loot and how and who will get what type of share in it (the booty). Delhi is also involved in this,” Chouhan alleged.

But, Nath, who took a leaf out of the Salim-Javed script then took to X for a retort. “Shivraj ji, It was Jai and Veeru who settled scores with the tyrannical Gabbar Singh. Madhya Pradesh has been suffering from atrocities for 18 years."

"The time has come for the end of tyranny. Rest you are sensible...”, he said with a dramatic flourish.

Real issues

Singh, the grassroots politician, however, realised you can take Bollywood this far and not more. Reacting to Chouhan’s remark, he stepped out of the frame, to say that it’s better to leave all this and focus on the main issues.

“Don't get into it. Issues are not Jai-Veeru or Gabbar Singh. The issue is that in the last 20 years, people are too tired because of their corruption, falsehood, cheating and scams like Vyapam and the recent patwari exam and unemployment,” he said.

The BJP claimed that they have pulled up Madhya Pradesh state from the BIMARU (laggard) state category but nothing happened if one looks at the health and the education sector in the state, said Singh.

“During the Corona crisis, a large number of people died because of non-availability of oxygen. Instead of talking in a filmy style, they should focus on the main issues in the elections,” Singh said.

Introducing Sholay characters in MP politics

State BJP president Vishnu Dutt Sharma blamed the Congress for introducing Sholay’s characters in the state politics during elections.

“I have been talking about development and poor welfare and this (Jai Veeru) was given by them only as their in-charge had taken these names. Congress only does one thing.. to deviate people's attention from the issues of development and poor people's welfare,” Sharma said.

(With agency inputs)

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