Watch Nidhi Razdan — do celebrities have a place in politics? Video Credit: Gulf News

As the campaign for the Lok Sabha election gets underway in India, star power is once again making headlines with a big Bollywood name, actor Kangana Ranaut, taking the plunge and joining the BJP.

She is the party’s candidate from the Mandi Lok Sabha seat in her home state of Himachal Pradesh. I have found Kangana’s journey quite fascinating. A small town girl, she was the outsider who broke into the film industry’s ranks with no godfather to help her or launch her.

She was just 16 when she left home to try her luck in Mumbai. Being an outsider in the industry meant Kangana had to work even harder and Bollywood doesn’t take too kindly to those that aren’t its “own”. But she had a string of successes and also took on some of the biggest names in the industry like film maker Karan Johar.

As Bollywood began to shun her, she found her calling in politics. It was quite evident the BJP would be her stop. But the question is — if she wins, will Kangana be a good MP?

That is where the record of many Indian celebrity MPs has been rather dismal. In the outgoing Lok Sabha, the BJP had the most celebrity MPs at 10, followed by the Trinamool Congress with 5 MPs. Superstar Sunny Deol was elected on a BJP ticket from the Gurdaspur seat in Punjab.

Read more by Nidhi Razdan

A mixed bag

As per data complied by PRS legislative research based on Parliament records, Deol’s attendance however was an abysmal 17 per cent in the last Lok Sabha. He did not participate in any debate. The BJP has dropped him as a candidate this time around.

Singer-turned-politician Hans Raj Hans, a BJP MP from North-West Delhi had an attendance of just 39 per cent, while other actor turned politicians from the Trinamool Congress like Mimi Chakraborty, Nusrat Jahan and Deepak Adhikari, also barely attended the House.

Adhikari’s attendance was just 12 per cent. According to PRS, almost 60 per cent of MPs had an attendance of above 80 per cent. About 10 per cent were below 60 per cent. This includes another big film name, Hema Malini who attended the Lok Sabha for less than 50 per cent of the sittings.

Not all celebrity MPs are like this though. Bhojpuri actor and BJP MP Manoj Tiwari had an attendance of 85 per cent and he has participated in the proceedings a number of times. Another big filmy name, Shatrughan Sinha did not take part in any debate and also did not ask a single question.

Get exclusive content with Gulf News WhatsApp channel

A waste of our time

Well known Odia actor turned MP Anubhav Mohanty took part in the highest number of debates among celebrity MPs (82), followed by Bhojpuri actor-singer Ravi Kishan (81), who has also asked an impressive number of questions in the House.

Previously in the Rajya Sabha, cricket legend Sachin Tendulkar was an MP but his attendance was a measly 7 per cent. Needless to say, he did not participate in any debate. Actor Rekha was also a Rajya Sabha MP and her attendance was just 5 per cent. Both nominations were a waste of our time.

One wonders why they even agreed to accept the nominations in the first place if they were not interested in any meaningful issue that affects the country. In this election, all eyes are on Kangana Ranaut and her star power.

Another big Bollywood face to join politics this time is actor Govinda who may also contest on a Shinde Shiv Sena ticket. Celebrity MPs may draw crowds at rallies, but that does not always translate into votes and even if does, it is no guarantee that they will be good parliamentarians.