SocietyPolitics Hema Malini, BJP Candidate From Mathura: A Critical Analysis Of Her Political Journey

Hema Malini, BJP Candidate From Mathura: A Critical Analysis Of Her Political Journey

Hema Malini’s politics align perfectly well with and are the truest representation of everything that is wrong with the Bharatiya Janata Party’s modus operandum of slow but sure religious transformation

In 2012, Hema Malini used her ethos as the actor who, in her illustrious film career brought to the country one of its favourite characters from the film Sholay (1975). “Basanti needs you,” she tells the crowd which immediately erupts in uproarious cheers in support of her and her party, the Bhartiya Janata Party. 

Hema Malini’s political career started when, in 1999, she campaigned on behalf of another Bollywood actor Vinod Khanna in Punjab. Malini officially joined the BJP in 2004 and her political career has been interesting to say the least. She was nominated as a Member of Parliament in the Rajya Sabha by the then President, Dr APJ Abdul Kalam. She then became the general secretary of the BJP and won the Mathura constituency in the 2014 elections.

Right before the 2019 General Elections, satirist Varun Grover, in one of his sets that cynically analyses the impact of various political figures drew attention to how Hema Malini had said in an interview that she had done a lot of work in Mathura but she could not remember what she did. That sums up Hema Malini’s political contributions.

Incidentally, self-admittedly, Malini’s background as one of India’s well-loved film actresses may have helped her in her political successes since her influence does not seem to be sequestered within geopolitical boundaries. Originally from Tamil Nadu and having worked in Mumbai for nearly most of her life, Malini chose to contest from Mathura and that seems to have its politically motivated reasons.

Performance in the Parliament

All in all, the numbers depicting Hema Malini’s participation in Parliament are underwhelming and do not bode well for the evaluation of her impact as an important political figure in the country. Hema Malini has an attendance of 50 per cent which is less than the national average of 79 per cent and way below the state average of 83 per cent in Uttar Pradesh. She has participated in a mere 20 debates which is not even half of the national average and not even a third of the state average. She has asked 105 questions in Parliament whereas the national average is 210 and the state average is 151. 

Source: Lok Sabha

Hema Malini has participated in debates regarding the 525th Birth Anniversary of Mirabai and for her constituency, Mathura, she has participated in debates regarding better railway connectivity. The most questions she has asked have been regarding Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare, Health and Family Welfare, and Environment, Forest and Climate Change. She has also asked some questions pertaining to Education and Tourism.

Hema Malini does not seem to be able to critique anything that the BJP does. Regarding the Farm Bills, she comments in the Parliament, that the protesters and the critics should allow them to be put into action before they point out any problems with it which is simply not how a democratic parliament works. In a country like India, where farmer suicides are as rampant as is a constant stifling of opposition, a suggestion akin to this does not take into account that farmers cannot afford to “wait and watch” the effect that new policy has on their lives. Hema Malini’s efforts to come across as one of the masses do not align with how divorced from the ground reality she is.

Mathura

Hema Malini’s foremost agenda is that of the cultural project of transforming Mathura into a place more befitting of the title of being the birthplace of the Hindu God Krishna and she treats this almost like a personal project, often paying money out of her pocket to pay for renovations along these lines. She has adopted a nearby village of Raval which is touted to be the birthplace of Radha.

The primary item in her checklist seems to be to “restore” to Mathura its cultural glory, but in the current political climate within which everything has implications beyond its face value, this cultural project is a religious one, and thus, a sectarian one, instantiated by the contemporarily well-known slogan of “Kashi-Mathura baaki hai” (Kashi and Mathura are remaining) after the religification of Allahabad, now Ayodhya, as a place of religious importance for Hindus. Hema Malini is herself known to have remarked that she would like a similar fate for Mathura. 

Hema Malini seems very invested in what she calls the “beautification” of Mathura, which is of course, in a way, imbuing it with Hindu religious imagery. To this end, she has overseen the refurbishment of the Mathura junction – which she says must look like an “exhibition” – adorning it with paintings of Krishna and putting up digital screens on the station that display the durations places of religious importance in Mathura are open for. Progress, in her own words, is secondary, and can be adequately addressed as a by-product of her project of beautification.

To describe Hema Malini’s politics in one word, they are questionable. Her comments on the benefits since the BJP government and Prime Minister Modi came into power have always been very flowery and homage-laden but they are also very vague and do not get into the details of what exactly she thinks is so praiseworthy. She supported the recent suspension of opposition MPs saying it was to be expected if they ask so many questions and “behave so strangely.”

To be fair to her, Mathura has seen 305 roads being built in 234 villages since 2014 but the question remains. How much could Mathura have accomplished had this progress been for progress’s sake and not secondary to BJP’s religious program? Can it afford to spend so much money and more on “looking pretty” when pertinent problems persist? Is this headway gained or time lost?

Hema Malini and politics

To describe Hema Malini’s politics in one word, they are questionable. Her comments on the benefits since the BJP government and Prime Minister Modi came into power have always been very flowery and homage-laden but they are also very vague and do not get into the details of what exactly she thinks is so praiseworthy. She supported the recent suspension of opposition MPs saying it was to be expected if they ask so many questions and “behave so strangely.”

Source: ABP News

She is also guilty of parroting the same concerns of Rahul Gandhi defaming the nation on “foreign soil” which is beyond problematic in its priorities. She fallaciously claimed that women in UP are now capable of walking around freely when one does not have to be a sociologist to know that is untrue. 

Hema Malini’s politics align perfectly well with and are the truest representation of everything that is wrong with the Bharatiya Janata Party’s modus operandum of slow but sure religious transformation. The aspects she chooses to or chooses to not address are reflective of those that her party privileges or dismisses respectively. Her ranking of “beautification” over progress is indicative of her party’s preoccupation with the superficial concerns of religiosity, and its ranking of the divisive over the progressive.


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