There’s no denying that star power can add considerable mileage to election campaigns, but political parties forget one crucial aspect — for actors, sometimes it is just another part to be played. The BJP is now learning this the hard way, after enlisting Marathi and Hindi actor Sachin Khedekar to appear in the party’s campaign video for Kalyan-Dombivli Municipal Corporation polls.
A grab from the video Khedekar had shot in support of the MNS. The clip is undated, but the actor claimed it had been shot a long time ago
Just two weeks ago, during an event at Dombivli, CM Devendra Fadnavis and other BJP leaders shared the stage with Khedekar, as they released the video featuring the actor, urging people to vote for the party. Imagine everyone’s surprise then, when a couple of days ago, another video surfaced with Khedekar once again asking people to vote, only this time, for the MNS.
A still from the BJP ad campaign
If this isn’t embarrassing enough, the Shiv Sena has pounced upon the opportunity to rub the BJP’s nose in it, circulating the MNS video on social media (‘Confused Khedekar’).
Tension between the two parties is at an all-time high, and although they have jointly led the KDMC for almost two decades, the BJP and Sena are now fighting the municipal elections separately. Just two days ago, the Sena also accused its ally of stealing an idea for a campaign advert – the same idea used in the video featuring Khedekar, as a matter of fact.
“Khedekar started the campaign for BJP just two weeks ago, in the presence of all the top leaders. And now we have a video showing him campaigning for the MNS. The BJP even stole this ad from us. How can anyone trust them?” said a senior Sena leader.
‘I’m just an actor’
Ask Khedekar, though, and he is very clear that he is not affiliated with any party — not the BJP or the MNS. However, he clarified that the MNS video had been shot a long time ago and has merely resurfaced on social media.
“The MNS ‘selfie’ video is very old; maybe from the Assembly or Lok Sabha election,” said the actor who has appeared in films such as Singham and Mi Shivaji Raje Bhonsale Boltoye.
“I am not a member of any political party. I am not associated with any party. I am a mere actor,” he told mid-day, adding, “I am not a BJP member. I was present onstage with BJP leaders because the campaign ad featuring me was being released there.”
Khedekar’s explanation notwithstanding, the damage is done, and both videos are making the rounds on social media and apps like Twitter and WhatsApp. The BJP seems unsure on how to handle questions about the videos or whether Khedekar is part of the party’s campaign or not.
Narendra Pawar, MLA (Kalyan West) and president of the BJP’s Kalyan-Dombivli wing, said, “I am not aware about the other video of Khedekar. Just a few days ago, it was him who was sitting next to me onstage when our ad campaign featuring him was released. I had asked him whether he was going to come and campaign for our party in the KDMC polls, and he had replied positively.”
On allegations that the party had stolen the ad’s idea from the Sena, Pawar said, “It’s nothing but a lie. Our creativity isn’t dead that we will steal Shiv Sena’s ad. All these rumours are being spread by those who do not want our friendship (BJP-Sena) to remain intact.”
MNS video is recent?
Claiming the MNS video is “recent”, MNS leader and former MLA from Mahim Nitin Sardesai said, “The video that Sachin Khedekar recently shot in support of MNS was not an advertisement. It was his own work, so he clearly supports our party.” However, when mid-day pointed out that Khedekar said the video was old and that he does not support any party, Sardesai said, “That is his lookout; how can I comment on that?”
The BJP ad starts with an elderly man asking for progress and change. Khedekar appears briefly to say in Marathi, “Be it Parliament or panchayat, we want a government with a unified vision.” The entire video features the BJP lotus symbol, and ends with the slogan: “Aapli Manapa, Aapli Bhajapa (Our municipal corporation, our BJP)”.
The MNS video, on the other hand, is a simple home video shot by Khedekar himself, much like a selfie. The video does not feature the MNS logo and does not refer to any particular election. Once again in Marathi, Khedekar says, “Change must come. Vote for MNS and Raj Thackeray’s strong leadership. There will be change; I have faith.”