Chandigarh, May 9 : He is a veteran Bollywood actor, but when it comes to seeking votes for his BJP candidate wife, Anupam Kher does not mind hitting the streets of the City Beautiful despite blistering heat.
True to the star gesture, he was also not missing an opportunity to get off from his vehicle to hug children and offer them an opportunity for a selfie during campaigning for his wife and Bharatiya Janata Party MP Kirron Kher, who is seeking re-election from Chandigarh.
He ended his first-phase of campaign in the city on Wednesday. He will begin the next phase from May 13.
During the campaign trail, the lights, the cameras and the action were there, only the dialogues from others were awkward for husband Kher wanting to make his wife protagonist for the 2019 Chandigarh elections.
At times, the dialogues from others were awkward for him to reply, admitted a senior BJP leader, who normally accompanied him during the campaigning.
"Anupam Kher daily prefers to attend six-seven corner meetings with handful party workers accompanying him. His day starts early morning with a stroll either in a park or at the Sukhna lake where he loves to interact with walkers," the leader, requesting anonymity, told IANS.
Later in the day, he preferred to attend meetings with residents at a gathering of around 2,000 voters.
"In his conversations, he prefers to answer questions related to Chandigarh. On the BJP's national policies, he evades by saying he is not a party's spokesperson," the party leader added.
Sushil Kumar, a vegetable vendor at the Sector 26 wholesale market, said Anupam Kher visited the market on Tuesday and tried to understand problems.
"Most of the vendors complained that the MP is arrogant and didn't like to interact once the election is over. At this, he tried to pacify the vendors that in future she will be more humble and sensitive to your issues and devote more time to redress your grievances," Kumar told IANS.
He said when the vendors were favouring the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) candidate Harmohan Dhawan, a former MP, Anupam Kher preferred to pacify them by nodding his head.
At one of his meetings, Anupam Kher was asked: "You and your wife are outsiders". At this, he replied gently: "She was educated in Chandigarh."
In his door-to-door campaigns, Anupam Kher appeals to people to come out to vote for the BJP on polling day.
"Don't give it a miss. You have to elect an honest Prime Minister Narendra Modi for the second time," he tells a shopkeeper in Sector 38 market.
The actor doesn't miss an opportunity to take a jibe at rebel Pawan Bansal of the Congress by saying: "Don't forget the man who was caught in corruption five years ago."
But for the actor too, dialogues are awkward sometime when the poll heat is at its peak.
Anupam Kher was left red-faced when a man quizzed him about the promises made by the BJP during the 2014 Lok Sabha elections.
As he was campaigning in the market of Sector 28 on Tuesday, a shopkeeper produced the saffron party's 2014 election manifesto and asked him how many of the promises made in it were fulfilled in the last five years.
Stung by the question, the actor left the shop without giving a reply.
In a video clip of the incident, which has gone viral on social media, the shopkeeper can be heard asking Anupam Kher: "Sir, ek chhoti si cheez poochna chahunga. Aap logon ne humse kuch waade kare the. Is mein se kya diya hai aap logon ne? (Sir, I have a small question. You people made some promises to us. Which of those have you delivered?)"
"During yesterday's election campaign, the opposition planted two people in a shop to ask me questions about the BJP's 2014 manifesto. I saw a man standing behind making a video, so I moved ahead. Today he released the video," Anupam Kher said in a tweet on Wednesday.
Noted actress Kirron Kher is pitted against Congress' Pawan Kumar Bansal, a former Union Minister, and Dhawan of the AAP, a BJP rebel.
In 2014, Kirron Kher had defeated Bansal by a margin of nearly 70,000 votes.
The actress not only faces tough challenge from the Congress, but also from within the local unit of the BJP.
Chandigarh BJP President Sanjay Tandon was breathing down her neck as a claimant for the party ticket from here.
Tandon was a ticket aspirant in 2014 also, but Kirron Kher managed to pip him at the post.
Nearly 6.2 lakh voters, including 40,000 new voters, will choose their next MP from Chandigarh on May 19, the seventh and last phase of the Lok Sabha elections.
(Vishal Gulati can be reached at email@example.com)