Elections 2019: Political parties are welcoming B-town celebs into their fold
Political parties are welcoming Tinseltown folk into their fold. A known face can go a long way in drawing crowds and win elections
Tinseltown and politics have always had an intrinsic connect. There is nothing like roping in cine idols and popular faces from the entertainment world to draw the crowds and hopefully garner the votes. In the on-going Lok Sabha poll, several actors have tossed their hat into the ring to test their popularity. Last week, Sunny Deol joined the Bharatiya Janata Party. Within hours, he was nominated the party's candidate from Gurdaspur, Punjab. Singer Daler Mehndi is the latest to join the party and was welcomed into the fold by leaders singing his track, Bolo Ta Ra Ra Ra.
Though it is not a new phenomenon - there have always been actors-turned-politicians - the rush by politicians to get film folk to endorse their respective parties is seen as a one-upmanship game. It is well known that some celebrities endorse it for money, especially those who do not harbour ticket aspirations. Others, for a party position and there are those who do it because they want to test new waters.
Isha Koppikar at an election campaign in Jalna
Former Bigg Boss contestant and Haryanvi dancer Sapna Choudhary has been campaigning for BJP candidates in New Delhi. She says, "I have not joined the party. I am doing it because my friends are contesting." She considers Bhojpuri actor Manoj Tiwari her pal, so has been part of his roadshows.
Last month, she found herself courting controversy after she found herself being welcomed by both the Congress and BJP into their fold. There was talk that she would get a ticket from Lucknow. "I didn't want to contest or join any party. But when my friends, who are standing for elections call me, I go."
Television producer Sourabh Tiwari who has made shows like Zindagi Ke Mehak and Krishna Chali London too joined the BJP because of the friend-in-the-party factor. He is currently taking time off the shoots and has parked himself in Patna to canvas for Ravi Shankar Prasad who is taking on Congress's Shatrughan Sinha. Explains Tiwari, "I know him, this is the reason I joined the party. I am still a newcomer, so this election is like a training ground for me. I am still learning the ropes. I accompaned him to fill the nomination.
Tiwari says may be in the future he will take the electoral plunge but for now, he is happy canvassing for Prasad. "Right now, my production house is set and I can take off to do other things. Earlier, when I was just setting off, there was no time to do anything else."
Sapna Choudhary canvassing for Manoj Tiwari in Delhi
Another television name who took the political plunge was Shilpa Shinde, best remembered as Angoori bhabhi on Bhabiji Ghar Par Hain and winner of Bigg Boss season 11. So far, she has not canvassed for the party but is planning to go to Bhopal to muster support for Digvijaya Singh. "I know his wife [Amrita Rai]. She called me and told me that as I was a popular face, they would like me to the campaign. I consider it an honour that they are aware of me and my work."
Shinde says she was always politically conscious thanks to her father, Satyadev Shinde. "He was a social worker and a diehard Congressman. I have grown up watching him interact with leaders like Sharad Pawar and Sushilkumar Shinde. So you can say, I was exposed to politics."
Shilpa Shinde, TV actor
The actor adds that she did not join the Congress to get a ticket. "I am still new in politics. I do not want things readymade. May be in the future, I may harbour aspirations after I have got a first-hand experiene what elections are all about."
Shinde claims she was offered a ticket to stand from Maharashtra and Uttar Pradesh, but she declined it. "Uttar Pradesh is the hotbed of politics and I did not see myself being a part of it."
TV producer Saurabh Tiwari (extreme left) campaigns for Ravi Shankar Prasad in Patna
Another actor who recently took the political plunge was Isha Koppikar, who joined the BJP. Best remembered as Bollywood's Khallas girl after the chartbuster, she says, "I joined politics because I wanted to serve the country. I liked the transformation and governance in the last five years. I was inspired by the leadership of Narendra Modi. There have many positive changes in terms of the Swaach Bharat campaign, infrastructure and our presence in the global market. I am sure the BJP will continue doing better work if elected again. I am supporting the development of our country."
Koppikar has been appointed the executive chairman of the party's transportation wing. She did not want to contest the election. "I have campaigned for the party in Jalna and Goa," she says. Shinde is now hopeful that she will bag a party post. "We will have to wait till May 23 [the day of the counting of votes] because only then a clear picture will emerge. Right now everyone is busy with the elections."
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