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Why Celebrities Are Joining Politics in India?

Posted by Admin on May 5, 2014 | Comment

In a star-struck country like India, it’s almost a norm to see actors, sportsmen, singers and the others belonging to the celebrity tribe using their ‘charm offensive’ to make a place in politics. From Olympics medal-winner Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore to former Miss India, the spectrum of celebrities who have joined politics is quite large. While some celebrities made it big in politics, the track record of the majority is dismal. Yet, our fascination with celebrities has somewhat overshadowed the power of reasoning and we tend to ignore the non-performing factor.

Why Celebrities Are Joining Politics in India

Reasons Why Celebrities Join Politics

In the recent past, political parties have become overly dependent on celebrities as campaigners. Unlike the 80s when Amitabh Bachchan and only a handful of other actors focused on a political career, the present epoch is witnessing a surge in celebrity participation. So, what are the probable reasons for this growing interest in politics?

There are primarily two ways to look at it. Political parties need to pull in more voters in their booty and one of the tried and tested ways is to field celebrities and let them cast a spell on the target audience (even if its effect is temporary). It is argued that since celebrities come from non-political background and most of them are a success in their chosen profession, the chances of them engaging with the prospective voters remain high. 

On the flip side, there has been a scramble for popularity and national visibility among the celebrities themselves. Those who are well over their prime, have all the leisure to focus on something as demanding as politics. Moreover, they stand a chance to get special privileges if their endorsements prove lucky for the party. 

Performance of Celebrities in Indian Politics 

Honestly, not everyone has been as lucky as actor-turned-politicians such as Jayalalithaa and Chiranjeevi. While the former has made her political clout evident as the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu and the chief of AIADMK, the other has held several important ministerial portfolios. Some celebrities did regret their decision of stepping into politics. Govinda, a popular actor with several noteworthy movies to his name, couldn’t survive in the political world for more than five years. His brief stint (2004-2009) as a Congress MP didn’t have any defining moment. The same happened to one of the prominent erstwhile heroes of Bollywood – Dharmendra. After being elected as the MP in 2004, he was largely disillusioned by the fact that no political parties are concerned about people and society. He quit in 2011. 

Even cricketers failed to put up a great show in politics. Some of them became victim to receding interest in the daily rigmarole and political slug fest. Be it Mohammad Azharuddin or Navjot Singh Sidhu, their presence in the Parliament as honorary members is far from satisfactory. 

Contribution of Celebrities in Indian Politics 

When it comes to a connection between celebrities and politics, M.G. Ramachandran (MGR) was one of the earliest trendsetters. The actor and director also donned the cap of Tamil Nadu Chief Minister. He remained a Congressman till 1953 before joining DMK and siding with M Karunanidhi. In the 60s, Indian parliament got its first actor-turned MP in Prithviraj Kapoor after he was nominated to the Rajya Sabha. The momentum gained in the 70s as actors started to assert their political ambitions. In fact, former actor Dev Anand went on to form his own party – The National Party of India. 

An intriguing question, however, is to what extent have these celebrities contributed? What value they have added to the political parties they endorsed? With a steady growth in the collective intelligence of voters, most of them are now shunning the tinsel town celebs. It has often been a matter of debate as to whether the celebrities are attuned to the needs of the common people. Are they accessible to common people? Are they patient and persevering enough to solve their problems? 

Most film stars, unfortunately, fail to impress the voters beyond the initial level of curiosity and fascination. This can be attributed to their once in a blue moon appearance in their constituencies as well as the Parliament. Much of the pre-election attention they garner soon fades away due to their perceived distance from reality. There are quite a few stars that have made it big in Indian Politics over a sustained period of time. But most others, as they say in the film lingo, make guest appearances before they return to their more glamorous lifestyle.