Punjabi singer Hans Raj Hans is contesting as the BJP candidate for the Delhi North West Lok Sabha seat. He is currently leading from the seat with around 2,10,000 votes against AAP's Gugan Singh. The 57-year-old, whose musical career spans folk songs, sufi music and Bollywood, made his political debut with the Shiromani Akali Dal before joining the Congress and then the BJP.
Born in a small village in Jalandhar, Hans Raj initially found fame as sufi singer and even collaborated with the late Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan on Kachche Dhaage, a 1999 Bollywood movie starring Ajay Devgn and Manisha Koirala.
A Padma Shri awardee, he made his formal political debut with the Akali in 2008, but had already been campaigning with them some years previously, using his music to draw crowds at party rallies. The campaigning came after the party named him to a state award - Raj Gayak.
A leader of the Balmiki Dalit community that constitutes a portion of the state's population, his political appeal was evident. And the Akali-BJP combine were keen to capitalise on that appeal, fielding him as their candidate from the Jalandhar seat for the 2009 general election.
Unfortunately for them, that appeal failed to translate and the party failed to flip a seat that had voted Congress the past two polls.
He was denied a ticket for the 2014 polls and quit the party in frustration, joining the Congress in February 2016 in the presence of party leader Amarinder Singh. Hans Raj praised the Congress as "a secular party. It does not look fanatic".
However, his time with Congress was short-lived - he left the party in less than 12 months because he was not nominated to the Rajya Sabha. He was also upset because he felt his status as Balmiki leader was being overlooked.
With only a few months to go for Assembly polls in Punjab, he hopped the considerable ideological divide that separates the Congress and the BJP in December 2016, claiming Prime Minister Narendra Modi's "honesty" compelled him to join the BJP.
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