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For god, mother and country -- Govinda

By Vijay Singh in Mumbai
May 13, 2004 20:17 IST
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He thanked his elders, and his favorite deities, for his victory.

Bollywood star turned fresh-fledged MP Govinda probably had more than himself to thank for what on the face of it was an improbable victory from the North Mumbai constituency.

Facing him, in what is almost a pocket borough for the BJP, was Ram Naik  -- a veteran leader, a much-loved figure in the area, with a proven track record of good work for his constituents.

And yet, Govinda led start to finish in the counting, finally emerging a good 48,294 ahead of  his rival, and in the process wresting a seat for the Congress from the BJP-Sena grasp.

"This victory is a blessing of the goddess, of my elders, and of the women of the constituency," the star who made almost a cottage industry out of films incorporating 'Number 1' in the title of his films said. "The women worked very hard for my victory. I accept the people's verdict, and am ready to follow the orders of my elders, and of my party."

But first, he has a little duty of his own to perform. During his campaign, he had visited every temple in the area, and beyond, for blessings -- now he intends to undertake the same extensive pilgrimage, to give thanks for answered prayers.

And then, "As a Member of Parliament, I will try to do all that I promised the people I would do; I will be true to the word I gave the people," the star with a street cred reflecting his humble origins in the suburb of Virar said.

Divine and earthly blessings notwithstanding, Govinda was none too sure when he woke up this morning what the outcome of his political debut would be -- so he played safe and stayed home. He was readying for a stint dubbing for an upcoming movie, when he got the news that counting trends indicated the seat was his.

His opponent, Ram Naik, in contrast reached the center before start of counting; as the exercise progressed, he meticulously cross checked everything.

All the checking, though, could not change one fact -- when it was all tallied up, the BJP leader was 48,294 votes shy of his unlikely rival, and on the wrong end of an upset result.

"I am accept the verdict of the people," Naik said, echoing the words of his conqueror. "In spite of doing so much work, I have been defeated -- we now have to examine the reasons for our defeat."

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Vijay Singh in Mumbai