Campaigning for the forthcoming state Assembly elections seems to be a lacklustre affair with film stars barely coming out to drum up support for political candidates
Election campaigns are more about personality than just manifestos, with politicians seeking endorsement from film stars.
Salman Khan, who used to actively campaign for Congress MLA, Baba Siddiqui, is one of the many film stars who chose to stay away from electioneering this time round. Pic/ Bipin Kokate
On many occasions we have seen the top notch of the industry campaigning for different political parties. Pardon the exaggeration, but if you tossed a stone on an electoral campaign, you'd normally hit a star.
Not this time though. Bollywood seemed to have steered clear of the campaigning blitzkrieg, which drew to a close on Monday evening.
"Several film stars including Salman Khan, Suneil Shetty, Ameesha Patel and Urmila Matondkar have earlier campaigned for political parties but this time round, most of them decided against it. They are the crowd pullers," says an industry source.
Salman, who once upon a time used to campaign for his friend and Congressman, Baba Siddiqui, by participating in all his rallies, was not seen during his campaign this time.
Apart from him, Nagma, Raj Babbar, Vivek Oberoi, Dino Morea, Mahesh Manjrekar and Nana Patekar among others have also been seen promoting political candidates in the past.
Nationalist Congress Party MLA, Sachin Ahir, agrees that the participation of Bollywood stars in the electioneering process has been lukewarm.
Nana Patekar, too, has been involved in political campaigns
"It could be due to the unavailability of the star and uncertainty of campaign timings. Whoever has come out to bang the drums for a particular candidate did it purely because of their past relations. It is really difficult to invite big names for campaigning," he says.
Vivek Oberoi actively endorsed BJP's PM candidate Narendra Modi during the Lok Sabha polls but that energy was absent this time round
MLA Krishna Hegde says, "I don't know about others but many famous personalities like veteran actors Shakti Kapoor, Tejaswini Kolhapure, former cricketers Vinod Kambli, and Sandeep Patil campaigned for me.
I had nine celebrities, including three stars, who came out to support me. I am not aware what kept the other actors busy. It could be work commitments and a hectic schedule."
Sunil Shetty campaigned for Arun Jaitley in Amritsar for the 2014 Lok Sabha elections and also went as far as Odisha to drum up support for Biju Janata Dal candidates for that state's Assembly polls
A political worker, on the condition of anonymity, says, "Bollywood stars have always been the icing on the cake and pull huge crowds for the political rallies because of their fan following across the country.
The bigger star you get for the campaign, the bigger turn out you have. Some of them do it for free while others charge money for a fleeting appearance."
Trade analyst Komal Nahata says the reason why many celebrities stayed out of the canvassing could be attributed to the fact that they had criminal and civil cases against them.
"Politicians may have felt such celebs are no better than them so they left them out. Every celebrity has some or the other case either ongoing or pending against them in court and it could be a mere coincidence that nobody wanted to campaign for the election hopefuls," he adds.