New Delhi: In Indian electoral discourse, many parties either bank on tara (astrological stars) or sitara (movie actors) to win a mandate in the multi-lingual vote share spread across the vast expanse of the country.
This year too, entertainment artists tried their luck and many won the people’s verdict with thumping margin, much to the surprise of poll pundits and general public alike.
Stepping into the arena in Punjab was Dharmendra’s son Sunny Deol, who joined the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) fairly late. The actor-producer-director contested and won against former Congress leader Balram Jakhar’s son Sunil Jakhar from Gurdaspur seat that was earlier represented by Vinod Khanna.
The giant slayer
The most keenly-contested seat was that of former model and television star-turned-BJP leader Smriti Irani, who created history by defeating Rahul Gandhi in Amethi, Uttar Pradesh, and conquered the Congress bastion of nearly four decades. She tweeted: “Who says one can’t prick a hole in the sky.”
Another hotly contested battle was witnessed in UP’s Rampur seat, where Bollywood actress Jaya Prada was pitted against Samajwadi Party leader Azam Khan. Interestingly, Jaya Prada was inducted into the SP fold by Khan in 2004. Jaya Prada had joined the BJP recently, but lost to Khan after an acerbic campaign from both sides.
Similarly, former BJP minister Shatrughan Sinha, who fought on the Congress ticket, was one of the biggest losers against BJPs Ravi Shankar Prasad. Sinha had twice won Bihar’s Patna Sahib seat. Banking on his own popularity, he said during campaign that it would be “soopda saaf” (whitewash) for BJP at the hands of the Grand Alliance in Bihar and UP. However, the reverse came true. His wife and former model-turned-actress Poonam Sinha, who joined SP, also lost to BJPs Home Minister Rajnath Singh from Lucknow, UP.
Win some, lose some
BJP leader Hema Malini, who had earlier said that it was her last election, retained her Mathura seat. But Urmila Matondkar, who joined the Congress party and contested from Mumbai North, looked unlikely to make a dent in incumbent Gopal Shetty’s reign. Even as Shetty said in his campaign, “She is a film star and I am a road star,” the way to this parliamentary seat was closed on Matondkar.
Another Congress leader who suffered major defeat was Raj Babbar, who had entered politics in 1989. After switching parties, he has been with the Congress since 2008. Swept by the BJP tsunami, he lost to Raj Kumar Chahar from UPs Fatehpuri Sikri seat.
BJP MP from Chandigarh Kirron Kher, who was supported by her husband Anupam Kher during her campaign, beat Pawan Kumar Bansal of Congress.
Even Bhojpuri singers and actors led from the front, adding a different flavour to the poll campaign, especially in UP and New Delhi. With the exception of Dinesh Lal Yadav, also known as Nirahua, who lost to SP president Akhilesh Yadav with a huge margin, others emerged triumphant.
Nullifying any doubts of a close fight, BJPs Ravi Kishen from Gorakhpur, a high-profile seat of UP chief minister Yogi Adityanath, won by massive mandate against his SP rival Rambhual Nishad.
BJP Delhi chief Manoj Tiwari also beat his Congress rival and three-time chief minister of Delhi Sheila Dikshit from North-East Delhi.
Another celebrity to join BJP was Hans Raj Hans. Neither Congress, nor Aam Aadmi Party could stop the onslaught of this bhangra pop and Sufiana singer, who won North-West Delhi constituency easily.
The Bengal bastion
It seems, yesteryear’s actress Moon Moon Sen’s “did not get bed-tea in time” remark will not be forgotten anytime soon. The Trinamool Congress (TMC) candidate from West Bengal’s Asansol seat lost to singer and actor Babul Supriyo in an oscillating contest.
Many in TMC were surprised when chief minister of West Bengal Mamata Banerjee fielded Bengali actress Mimi Chakraborty from Jadavpur constituency. She won against BJP’s Anupam Hazra. Like her, actress Nusrat Jahan made her debut in politics this year and won on a TMC ticket from Basirhat constituency.
Reigning actor Dev and actress Satabdi Roy also managed to retain their seats by defeating BJP candidates with comfortable margins from Ghatal and Birbhum, respectively.
The South story
The fight between Nikhil Kumaraswamy, the Janata Dal-Secular candidate (grandson of former prime minister H D Deve Gowda), and Sumanlatha Ambareesh, an independent candidate, backed by the Kannada film industry, was billed as the “mother of all battles.” She defeated her rival from Mandya constituency.
South Indian actor Prakash Raj contested as an independent candidate from Bengaluru Central constituency. Bollywood actress Swara Bhaskar campaigned for him, but the Modi-wave swept this popular actor.