From Congress, SP to BJP: Raju Srivastava's 'versatile' political journey
India is mourning the demise of Raju Srivastava, a legendary comedian and the nation's favorite "Gajodhar Bhaiya." The veteran breathed his last at the age of 58, at AIIMS, Delhi. Apart from making Indians laugh for years, the veteran comedian also forayed into the realm of politics and eventually found home in the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). Here's Srivastava's complete political journey.
- Srivastava had established himself as a prominent part of the entertainment industry since the 1980s, appearing in comedy shows and Bollywood films.
- To recall, the comedic genius was in the gym when a heart attack hit him, and he had been getting treatment for over a month before he passed away on Wednesday.
- Senior BJP leaders also spoke to his family during the treatment.
Born in Kanpur, Uttar Pradesh, Srivastava entered politics in 2012 by campaigning for Congress in his constituency. In 2014, the Samajwadi Party (SP) offered him a Lok Sabha ticket. Srivastava had started preparing for outreach programs with supporters when he surprisingly returned the SP ticket. He alleged the supporters of other claimants of the Kanpur seat were threatening his team, The Indian Express reported.
After claiming that the SP leadership did not take cognizance of the threat, he joined BJP in the presence of Rajnath Singh a week later. Singh was the party president then. The Great Indian Laughter Challenge-champ was deeply dedicated, reports say. Kanpur BJP leader Sunil Bajaj said that while Srivastava was not very active, he always campaigned for candidates in state and general elections.
The comedian was appointed as the brand ambassador of Narendra Modi's Swachh Bharat Abhiyan in 2014. In 2019, the Uttar Pradesh government appointed him as the chairman of the state's Film Development Council. He often identified himself as a 'BJP man'. However, the BJP-SP enmity cooled off for a brief moment after his death as leaders from both sides expressed their condolences.
Raju Srivastava brightened our lives with laughter, humour and positivity. He leaves us too soon but he will continue to live in the hearts of countless people thanks to his rich work over the years. His demise is saddening. Condolences to his family and admirers. Om Shanti. pic.twitter.com/U9UjGcfeBK— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) September 21, 2022
UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath expressed grief and said, "He took the genre of comedy art to new heights...He made a commendable contribution in the upliftment of the traditional art forms of the state through the Uttar Pradesh Film Development Council." SP chief Akhilesh Yadav said, "May the departed soul of famous comedian Shri Raju Shrivastava, who was awarded 'Yash Bharti', rest in peace."