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Parties to consider adding a dash of star power to their campaigns

As polling day approaches, major political parties in the district may enlist the support of television and film celebrities to boost their campaigns’ popularity amongst the masses

With just 15 days left for campaigning, the five major political parties in the district are sparing no effort to woo voters, and are now considering going the extra mile by enlisting the support of film and television celebrities.

Smriti Irani
BJP leader and Union HRD Minister Smriti Irani has long been a household name in the country, with her acclaimed television role as ‘Tulsi’ — something she could use to bring some mass appeal to the party’s local campaign in Pune. File pic for representation

‘Star’ campaigners
Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is planning to bring in actors turned politicians, MP Hema Malini and Union Minister for Human Resource Develop-ment (HRD) Smriti Irani, to appeal to the masses.

“We are going to conduct a road show with Hema Malini and Smriti Irani in Vadgaon Sheri, Hadapsar and Kothrud,” said BJP’s Western Maharashtra spokesperson, Shripad Dhekane. Political pundits have questioned, however, why the BJP is resorting to such tactics when it already has the ‘Modi advantage’, which it used to win the Lok Sabha polls single-handedly.

Others said that the BJP may not be so secure in those constituencies because they were seats assigned to Shiv Sena, during the alliance. Political scholar Prakash Pawar, however, was of the opinion that BJP’s decision to bring in celebrity power should be judged offhand.

“We should not look at these efforts negatively. It is possible that BJP might have a majority of voters in these three constituencies, however never had a chance to field their candidates there because of the seat-sharing agreement in the alliance,” he said, adding that the road shows may well be what the party needs to increase its winning chances.

The Maharashtra Navn-irman Sena, on the other hand, is considering inviting Marathi actors such as Bharat Jadhav, Sachin Khedekar and Sanjay Narvekar to join its cause. While the party members still consider their chief, Raj Thackeray and his wife Sharmila, to be their star campaigners, they have also given some thought to inviting the actors to appeal to the Maharashtrian vote.

“Many Marathi actors are already associated with MNS, and therefore we have asked actors such as Bharat Jadhav, Sachin Khedekar and Sanjay Narvekar to campaign in the city for the party,” said MNS city chief, Bala Shedge. He said Sachin Khedekar is likely to woo educated voters in Kasba, Kothrud and Parvati constituencies, while Sanjay Narvekar and Bharat Jadhav would campaign in pockets like Bhavani Peth, Nana Peth and other areas where there are chances that voters could be swayed by their celebrity appeal.

No stars for NCP
Nationalist Congress Party, which will begin its state-wide campaign from Pune on October 4 in Balewadi, will not include celebrities in its fold. “We don’t believe in bringing celebrities to woo voters. Instead, we would try to cover all eight constituencies in Pune with door-to-door campaigning,” said NCP city chief and Rajya Sabha MP, Vandana Chavan.

Meanwhile, both Congress and Shiv Sena are keeping their cards close to their chest. “We will make an announcement about our campaigners only after October 2, as we haven’t thought about it yet. What is important for us is the campaign’s inauguration, which is happening today (Tuesday) in Tuljapur, where former CM Prithviraj Chavan will address a rally,” said Congress state spokesperson, Anant Gadgil. Shiv Sena’s Sham Deshpande also declined to comment on their campaign plans.

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