This is no laughing matter. If all goes well, Phulpur constituency in Uttar Pradesh, which had elected India's first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru to Lok Sabha, may witness a TV laughter show champion as a Congress candidate. Raju Srivastav says, "I have been approached by Uttar Pradesh Congress Committee President Rita Bahuguna to contest from Allahabad-Phulpur and she has also briefed me about the demography of the constituency." "I was shocked when I first heard about the offer. I thought it was another joke, better than the ones I crack. But I was told that it was a serious offer and I should consider it seriously," the 45-year-old stand-up comedian told PTI in Mumbai on Sunday.
Raju said he met Congress President Sonia Gandhi in New Delhi on March 13 along with Bahuguna and Mumbai Congress President Kripashankar Singh. "She said she knows me from my TV shows. I told her I like her working style of taking along people of all sections of society," Raju said. Asked if the issue of his contesting from Phulpur, was discussed during the meeting, Raju, who hails from UP, said "Soniaji did not asked me anything but Bahuguna told her that she had explained everything to me".
Initially, it was Singh who in Delhi broached the topic about contesting Lok Sabha polls, Raju said. "Later, Bahuguna, during a meeting at Lucknow, informed me about various statistics on Phulpur, like the number of voters and electoral history of the seat," he said. "I was born in Kanpur but my father hails from Allahabad, which is about 35 km from Phulpur. He was born at Allahabad and went to college there. My father's cousins still live in Allahabad," he said.
Asked what he felt about entering the world of politics, Raju said "I love doing new things, taking up new challenges. When I first came to Mumbai, I drove a taxi for a month and later worked in stage shows, earning Rs 100 per day. Who knows what tomorrow has in store for me." Raju already has plans for his foray in Parliament. "My mimicry of Lalu Prasad is a hit with millions of people but I have only seen him from a distance. In Lok Sabha, I will get a chance to observe him at close quarters," he said. If Raju is to be believed, it is not only Congress that has offered him a Lok Sabha seat. "I have similar offers from some other parties," he said, adding that he was waiting for Sonia Gandhi's decision.