Gurpreet Singh Waraich ‘Ghuggi’ has won the hearts of Punjabis through his comedy and acting in the past 25 years. At 45, the political greenhorn is now counting on the credibility and goodwill he has established through his acting career to win votes in Batala, an industrial town in Gurdaspur district of Punjab which goes to polls on February 4.
Contesting on an Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) ticket, the actor- turned-politician is confident of defeating his heavyweight opponents and promises to “change the face” of the city, which was once known as the “Iron Bird of Asia” for its steel factories, with better infrastructure and revived industries.
Ghuggi, who has worked in popular Hindi movies like ‘Namastey London’ and ‘Race’, joined AAP in February last year after being “impressed” with the work done by Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal who, he said, brought “practical agenda and approach” on the political landscape.
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Blaming political rivals for the “pathetic” condition of Batala, he said, “There are lots of issues pertaining to infrastructure in Batala. There are no traffic lights in the city, no parking facility and heaps of garbage lie in all over the streets.”
“Despite being a police district, there is no super-speciality hospital, higher educational institute and even a stadium for sports activities,” said Ghuggi, who commenced his career as Punjabi actor in Jalandhar Doordarshan and got wide attention in TV comedy show ‘The Great Indian
“Nobody gave attention to Batala. This city was ignored completely. Do you know there is no cinema here in spite of the fact that it is the seventh largest city in terms of population in Punjab. People go to Amritsar to watch movies. “Batala was known as steel city. But it is now in doldrums and no effort was ever made to revive this foundry industry,” said Ghuggi, who is also AAP’s Punjab convener.
His political opponents — sitting MLA and Congress candidate Ashwani Sekhri and Akali Dal nominee Lakhbir Singh Lodhinangal, however, ruled out any challenge from the newbie and exuded confidence of winning the election comfortably. Asked about his chances of winning the election, the AAP nominee said, “It is the credibility and goodwill which I have earned during the 25 years of my career in TV and film… People know me and they also know my loyalty towards my work. I do not need to convince people to vote for me. Rather they are thankful that they have seen a real man in their area who can really fix their issues.”