his year, ahead of Lok Sabha elections 2019, from ‘Rangeela’ girl Urmila Matondkar to the 2.5-kg hand actor Sunny Deol has entered the list of actors joining politics. What difference they will bring to their respective political parties would be solely decided by their performance in this new career. BJP is looking at winning seats it hasn’t been able to before. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) fielded a star-studded line-up of candidates including Bollywood stars, young entrepreneurs, Padma awardees, sportsmen, and other celebrities, as the party takes aim at winning a bigger majority than it did in 2014, a similar experiment in 2014 paid off. Singers Manoj Tiwari and Babul Supriyo, actors Paresh Rawal and Kirron Kher, Olympic shooting medalist Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore, columnist Pratap Simha, former army chief VK Singh, former Union home secretary RK Singh, former Mumbai police commissioner Satyapal Singh, and former bureaucrat Udit Raj were prominent among those fielded by the BJP and they all not only won but played a huge role promoting the party agendas. Their presence on social media brought a lot of glory to BJP and Modi. These candidates also helped to create a buzz around the party.
Prominent Bollywood names doing the rounds this time include Sunny Deol, who would be contesting a Lok Sabha seat from Punjab. The Deol family is not new to politics. Sunny Deol’s stepmother Hema Malini is contesting from Mathura seat for the second time, his father Dharmendra Singh Deol had won the 2004 Lok Sabha election from Bikaner constituency in Rajasthan on a BJP ticket. Political parties have always harnessed celebrity’s power on the election trail. Mostly, it works, but sometimes, some celebrities lose their way and the plot in the new political scenario. Last month, actor-turned-politician Jaya Prada showed just that. Jaya Prada, who joined the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), has been fielded from Uttar Pradesh’s Rampur Lok Sabha seat. She is pitted against Samajwadi Party’s Azam Khan.
Similarly, Congress too has followed the practice of wooing high-profile candidates from other professional backgrounds. This year Urmila Matondkar took a surprising entry into Congress before that Big Boss fame Shilpa Shinde too joined Congress. The actors like Amitabh Bachchan fought from Allahabad on a Congress ticket but his political career was short-lived as he quit before his term ended. Lately, Congress has also given tickets to the actor Govinda and the former Cricket captain Mohammad Azharuddin, both of them won. Bollywood is the platform of entertainment and the actors or actresses, those are into theatres and acting, are renowned personalities and their popularity enables the party to gain the support of more and more people; a recognition and trust develop into the common people. Looking at the goals of winning, BJP has been much active in roping-in celebrities. Last year, the BJP ran a ‘Sampark for Samarthan’ campaign where it met several celebrities including Madhuri Dixit and veteran singer Lata Mangeshkar for their support.
In order to serve for the best of the society, a few actors have joined different political parties but a very few among them are the successful politicians. The actor entered politics more than two decades ago and has been on a roller coaster ride ever since. In the 25 years of her political journey, Jaya Prada switched parties, faced suspension, and was mired in controversies. Mathura candidate Hema Malini’s luxurious campaign came up with much criticism. Fighting from Mumbai-North, another actor turned politician Urmila Matondkar also became a subject of social media trolling where fake news around her religious identity popped up. Be it Bollywood or regional cinema, film stars do have a big fan following. However, once they get elected, do they turn out to be good politicians?
Their stardom did bring votes and they won by huge margins. However, their performance after being elected to the Parliament wasn’t a blockbuster. Most of the elected film stars did not engage in parliamentary activities, scored a below average attendance, did not ask much questions and did not participate in debates. At least 20-21 actors contested in the 16th Lok Sabha polls but only 10 got elected. Of the 10 elected actors, six came from the Bharatiya Janata Party, two from All India Trinamool Congress, and one each from Lok Janshakti Party and Aam Aadmi Party each. Late actor Vinod Khanna (BJP) served for the fourth time and Shatrughan Sinha from the BJP served his second term in the lower house of the Parliament. BJP MP from Chandigarh Kirron Kher recorded the lowest margin of victory. Sreemati Dev Varma, aka Moon Moon Sen, had the lowest vote share among the 10 chosen celebrities in 2014. Meanwhile, let us not forget that the 2014 elections were on Modi popularity. In that popularity wave, many won elections and BJP miserably lost elections in several states after that. The scenario has changed and 2019 would be a real test; let’s see who manages to win!
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