She is not the conventional politician. Gul Panag, a Bollywood actor with a pronounced dimple, rides a Royal Enfield 350 cc bike, jogs at the Sukhna Lake to meet people, walks in parks and shares a quick bite of rajma-chawal with students at Panjab University's popular haunt.
Miss India, model, actor and now politician, Gul Panag is doing unconventional things as she goes about her 18-20 hour hectic schedule to cover the political ground for the April 10 election to the Chandigarh Lok Sabha seat.
Picked by the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) as its replacement candidate after the original choice Savita Bhatti for the Chandigarh seat opted out, Gul found herself in the middle of mainstream politics - coming straight from Bollywood's glamour world. Pitted against four-time and sitting MP Pawan Kumar Bansal of the Congress and the BJP's Kirron Kher, another actor and TV personality, Gul is putting up a good fight to woo Chandigarh's over 600,000 electorate.
Though most of her campaign is on foot, which she attributes to lack of funds and says that this helps her meet more people, Gul, dressed in Jeans and a cotton kurta with a scarf around her neck, has been seen driving around on a Royal Enfield motorcycle, which has been borrowed from a friend here, with a helmet on her head during her campaign. She even pedalled on a cycle to create awareness for environment and the concerns over growing traffic in Chandigarh.
She hits the jogging track regularly at the Sukhna Lake and takes a walk in various parks that Chandigarh offers to meet more people. She has been seen getting `mehendi' applied from a street vendor at one of the busy markets here and even having a `paan' (betel leaf). Gul also had dinner at the night food street near PGIMER. On another day, she relished lunch with `rajma-chawal' at Stu-C on the Panjab University campus, the institution from where she did her Masters. "This is my way of connecting with the people. I am having up to 25 cups of tea every day and that is something that not only connects me with people but also refreshes me," Gul told IANS here.
From the colonies and villages of Chandigarh's `have-nots' to the city's elitist areas, Gul and her team of campaigners are trying to cover every inch of political space. "We always knew that politics had to happen to Gul. We are giving this our best shot despite constraints of funds and resources. We have a very dedicated team of leaders, activists and volunteers. Our support base is also increasing," Gul's younger brother, Sherbir, told IANS.