MATHURA: Bollywood's 'dream girl' Hema Malini had a dream run in the last Lok Sabha polls but her electoral rivals claim she neglected her constituency and wasn't approachable during her term and Brijwasis would reject her this time.
But Hema Malini is pinning her hopes on the work the Narendra Modi government has done in the past five years.
She is up against Narendra Singh of the RLD, which is part of the alliance with the Samajwadi Party and Bahujan Samaj Party, and Congress's Mahesh Pathak.
The opposition is also billing it a 'Brijwasi vs outsider contest' claiming that Hema Malini was never approachable during her entire term. The opinion of voters was somewhat divided. Some fell that the Balakot air strike and Mission Shakti could be electoral issues while for others, problems of farmers, unemployment and lack of development are major issues here.
"We don't know Hema Malini but we have full faith in Modi. Sometimes you have to forget own problems for the sake of the country," said a shopkeeper near the Krishna Janambhoomi temple.
"Hema Malini never came to our village. We did not see her after 2014. We prefer a local who is approachable," said a resident of Chhata.
Narendra Singh, who lost previous three assembly elections, accused her of neglecting the constituency, saying one cannot work for Mathura while sitting in Mumbai.
"I am a Brijwasi and know about the problems of locals. Last time, she won because of the Modi wave but after that she was not involved with her constituency. Forget about the people, her own party cadres are against her. Vikas (development) is missing in Mathura," he said.
"She did nothing for cleaning of the Yamuna, Chhata sugar mill and unemployment issues, monkey menace in Vrindavan etc.," he said.
He claimed this contest is a secular vs communal one in which secular forces will win.
But Hema Malini contested this and said people believe in Modi and will vote for him and her work. "I have done a lot of work and a lot has to be done. For that I need another five years. I will revive the old heritage of Brij with modern facilities. I am contesting this election only for the development of Mathura and have spent all my MP fund for good causes," she told PTI.
In 2014, Hema Malini defeated Rashtriya Lok Dal candidate Jayant Chaudhary by a massive margin of 3,30,743 votes. Analysts said if the opposition candidate could win if its manages to swing the Jat, OBC, Muslim and Thakur votes in its favour.
It may be mentioned here that Narendra Singh's elder brother and three-time former MP Manvendra Singh joined the BJP recently. Congress candidate Mahesh Pathak is eyeing the upper caste votes.
The temple town has a total of 17,99,321 voters, 8,23,276 of them being women. Mathura has five assembly segments -- Chhata, Mant, Goverdhan, Mathura and Baldev. The BJP won this seat from 1991 to 2004, the Congress (Manvendra Singh) in 2004 and Jayant Chaudhary of RLD (2009).