Mithun Chakraborty today made his first appearance for the BJP in Bengal.
As BJP leaders toured Bengal today for elections starting Saturday, the show-stealer was actor Mithun Chakraborty, who debuted on the campaign trail days after joining the ruling party.
This was Mithun Chakraborty's first appearance for the BJP in Bengal, not as a candidate but as star campaigner.
Speculation that he would contest the election was shut down when his name was missing from the BJP's final list of candidates earlier this week. "I have no political aspirations," he repeated today.
On Day 1, he held roadshows in three districts - Saltora, Jhargram and Keshiari, making flying visits using a helicopter.
At Saltora in Bankura, chants of "Dada" greeted the 70-year-old movie star and dance show judge. Many also shouted "dialogue" to get him to say some of his most famous one-liners.
"My relationship with the people of Bengal is not that of hero and fan," said the national award winning actor, wearing a saffron scarf in addition to his usual kurta, cap and sunglasses.
"My bond with them is from the heart. Aamar hridoyer sambandho, aatmar sambandho. I connect with them from the heart," he told NDTV.
"Dialogues bolna padta hai (one has to give them some dialogues) because I am an entertainer - see... even now people are shouting for dialogues."
The crowds knew what they wanted from their "Dada". "I have come here to see Mithun," a young man said. Another added: "I came to see both Mithun and the helicopter."
On March 7, after joining the BJP at a rally addressed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the actor had famously delivered lines from his various hit films: "Marbo ekhaney...lash porbay shoshaney ('i will thrash you here. Your body will be found at the crematorium," he said, quoting from his 2006 hit "MLA fatakeshto".
"Here is my new dialogue. Ami joldhorao noi, bele borao noi... ami ekta cobra, ek chobol-ei chhobi (Don't mistake me for a harmless snake, I am a pure cobra, one strike and you become a photograph." His audience cheered wildly and many among them chanted "Chhobole Chhobi)".
There were rumours about Mithun Chakraborty contesting from Rashbbehari, the seat many believed was reserved for the 'Dada' of Bengali cinema. BJP sources had earlier said the prestigious south Kolkata seat was being kept open for the actor but he reportedly has not agreed.
Years ago, he was a Rajya Sabha member of the Trinamool Congress. He quit as MP in 2016 after being questioned in the Saradha scam, in which several Trinamool Congress leaders have been implicated.
Bengal will vote in eight rounds before results on May 2. The BJP is campaigning aggressively to try and defeat two-time Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and her Trinamool Congress.