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Celebrity Influence In The Lok Sabha Election

By Abdullah Khan

06 April, 2009
Countercurrents.org

Politics, which was once described as cesspool by none other than the Amitabh Bachchan continues to be in that frame but has, in fact, become dirtier and murkier. For the glamour world, celebrities from the world of cricket and cinema are not new to the political power circles. But with elections to the Lok Sabha round the corner, the bollywood and the cricket fraternity have suddenly become a fertile candidate outsourcing agencies for all major political parties.

Raju Srivastav, better known as 'Gajodhar Bhaiya' may have become a star among the middle class house-holds with his comic comments. But now Raju Srivastava is gearing up to play a new innings. Raju Srivastav, who till date has been restricted to small screen, is all set to widen his horizon. Ahead of the Lok Sabha elections, the Congress has offered Raju Srivastav to contest the Phulpur constituency in UP. Term it ironical or fate of destiny, Phulpur is the same constituency which was once represented by the First Indian Prime Minister Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru.

However, Raju Srivastav is not alone. Bhojpuri film stars have suddenly become a hot prize in this election jamboree. After the Samajwadi party got Bhojpuri cine star Manoj Tiwary to their rank and gave him party ticket from Gorakhpur, the Congress too did not want to be left behind in cashing the recent boom in popularity of Bhojpuri films. The party is learnt to have wooed another Bhojpuri cine star Ravi Kishan to brighten the party prospects in eastern UP and Bihar. Similarly, another Bhojpuri entry awaiting is Prakash Jha, renowned Bollywood director who missed last time is gearing up again to contest from Bettiah in Bihar from Ramvilas Paswan's LJP.

However, the real grand entry this election festival would be of 'Munnabhai'. Even though Sanjay Dutt may be carrying the political legacy of his father Sunil Dutt, his decision to ride bicycle from Lucknow Lok has sprung interest among many.

But the list of film and entertainment celebrities contesting elections this time may be long than ever before. While, Shiromani Akali Dal has already announced the candidature of Punjabi Pop star Hans Raj Hans from Jalandhar in Punjab, the Congress is considering getting film actress Nagma into the political ring from Bhopal. Among the celebrities who are in the waiting list are Rajesh Khanna from Congress and Smriti Irani from BJP for whom their respective parties are weighing out suitable seats. And these new celebrity entities in Indian politics would only be complimenting the film stars who are already giving some colours to Parliament including Raj Babbar, Jayaprada, Govinda, Vinod Khanna, Hema Malini, Jaya Bacchhan, Shatrughan Sinha, and Dharmendra.

It's not only the film and entertainment industry which has become the candidate breeding ground for political parties but another field on the political radar is this time is cricket. After Navjot Singh Siddhu became a simultaneous hit with the public and the political class, this time the catch for the former Indian cricket captains is much high. The Congress has already got Mohammad Azharruddin in its camp. Similarly, former Indian captains Anil Kumble and Dilip Vengsarkar are also likely to contest Lok Sabha elections from BJP and Shiv Sena respectively from Karnataka and Maharashtra.

There is a serious erosion of credibility among the political class. There is a need for upgrading the quality of politics. Unfortunately in the recent decade there was none from the grass-root level who had risen to the top in any political party. What resulted in the bargain is that sons and daughters of the present crop of older generation who have taken over the mantle from their fathers. Incidentally, the leaders also realise that with dwindling stock of their credibility, the glamour world has become the best hunting ground for tapping the talent, though it could be totally unrelated to the work they were doing.

The sudden influx of celebrities in the political parties reflects the sorry state of politics. This has also reduced politics to a mockery. Do these celebrities realise that politics is an entirely different kettle of fish? The politicians may need stars, but the common man, who is going to decide the fate of the nation, needs little of their service.

Abdullah Khan is a media professional based in Hyderabad. He can be reached at abdullah.k.1@gmail.com

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