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Celebrity Candidates in 2016 Assembly Elections

April 12, 2016

Roping in celebrities and popular faces from the entertainment industry has become a tested formula for political parties heading for elections, especially in constituencies where they know they have little or no visibility. Popular actors and sports stars add glamour quotient to elections in India and often succeed in getting the poor voter’s mandate on the back of charm offensive. While the core issues of the constituency may get sidelined in the process, this often works for the party in winning seats.

2016 Assembly Polls: Celebrities in fray

Veteran Celebrities Who Had a Stint as a Politician

A number of celebrities have made foray into politics to explore a secondary career after retirement from their respective fields. However, only a few manage to remain for a long haul. Voters may get impressed by the celebrity quotient, but the razzmatazz wears away if the core issues are left unaddressed. While many have failed to relive their reel appeal in their role as politician (think for instance, Dharmendra, Govinda and Vinod Khanna) some others have donned the mantle of neta with panache. Foremost example of this is Tamil Nadu chief minister J. Jayalalitha followed by others like former Union Minister Chiranjeevi and Bollywood playback singer Babul Supriyo, who is a Union Minister of State in the NDA government now.

As four states and a union territory head to the polls this summer, here’s a look at the profile of some celebrity candidates who will try their luck in politics in the elections.

Celebrity Candidates in 2016 West Bengal Elections

Debasree Roy of TMC: This National Award winning actress has had a successful career in Bengali films. She performed in lead roles in commercial as well as parallel cinema. Roy played the role of Satyavati in the televised version of the epic Mahabharata which was directed by B.R. Chopra. She joined TMC and contested successfully in the West Bengal assembly elections 2011 against veteran CPI(M) leader Kanti Ganguly from Raidighi constituency. This actress-turned-MLA will contest again from the same constituency in this elections.

Baichung Bhutia of TMC: Considered as the torchbearer of Indian football, Baichung Bhutia retired in 2011 after a successful career in the sport. He has been awarded with the Arjuna Award and Padma Shri. He joined the Trinamool Congress and contested unsuccessfully from Darjeeling in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections. He will contest again from Siliguri on TMC ticket in 2016 Assembly election.

Rupa Ganguly: This talented Bengali actress, who became popular for her role as Draupadi in Mahabharata’s televised version, will contest from the Howarh North Assembly seat on BJP ticket in West Bengal Assembly elections. She will take on TMC’s Laxmi Ratan Shukla who is a former captain of the Bengal cricket team. Needless to say, the contest in Howrah North will be one of the most high-profile ones.

Celebrity Candidates in 2016 Kerala Elections

S. Sreesanth: This former Indian pacer has been often in the news during his cricketing career, and mostly for wrong reasons. Sreesanth became known for his dramatic appeals for wicket to the umpire and all the more dramatic expressions when he got one. All this ended after he was slapped with a lifetime ban from cricket on charges of unruly behaviour and match fixing. Interestingly, this cricketer has been selected by the BJP to fight the Kerala Assembly elections from Thiruvananthapuram constituency. The decision has surprised many within the party. Fielding him might be seen as a desperate move by the party to bag votes of the youth. One will have to wait to see how far this works for the BJP.

Bheemen Reghu: This Malayalam film actor was a police officer before he turned to cinema. With a career spanning almost three decades, he is best known for his depiction of villains in Indian films. Reghu will now try his fortune in politics. He will contest from Pathanapuram constituency on BJP ticket.

Celebrity Candidates in 2016 Tamil Nadu Elections

R.Sarathkumar: Sarathkumar was an actor before he forayed into politics. He was a member of DMK and AIADMK before launching his own party – the Samathuva Makkal Katchi – in 2007. Sarathkumar won from Tenkasi constituency in the 2011 Tamil Nadu Assembly elections. The actor-turned-politician’s hold over the influential Naddar community has been a major reason for his rapid rise in politics.

After entertaining people with their histrionics on the silver screen and sporting talent on field, it would be intriguing to see if these actor-turned-politicans can convince voters in their new role as netas. because politics demands all these and more.

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Disclaimer: The views expressed are of those of the author and do not represent the views of

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