By  Piya Chakraborty

Edited by Michelle Cherian

Be it any political party, including celebrities into politics has become the latest trend these days. Starting from actors to musicians we have them all. But the question that arises is whether actually involving celebrities into politics brings in positive results for the welfare of a country. Considering the popularity and fan following of a celebrity,political parties get a lot of publicity and limelight. Common people and specially teenagers tend to idolize celebrities, thus if their position be utilized properly it can be easy to influence people to work towards the development of the country and take genuine interest in politics. But most of the time inclusion of celebrities just ends up being a gimmick or a strategy of the parties to gather votes. Moreover, often for the actors or musicians, politics turns out be a second career option and they do not give politics the priority it deserves and because of inexperience they end up providing no positive results in the long run. Often their overwhelming presence turns things into the sorts of a carnival. The trend of including bollywood stars started with Prithviraj Kapoor way back in 1960 when he was nominated to the Rajya Sabha, the Upper House of Indian Parliament. Then the list continues including Shabana Azmi, Jaya Bachchan, Hema Malini, Jayaprada, Shatrughan Sinha, Rekha, etc. Apart from a handful, the track record of the majority has been dismal, but the fascination neglects the non performance of the celebrities.The growing surge of celebrity participation in politics is primarily due to the need to pull more voters and make celebrities cast a temporary spell on the common man. Being successful in their respective platforms, they easily connect with voters. Moreover celebrities have the desire to get popularity and national visibility for themselves. Celebrities who have already become quite successful in their respective fields have free time to dedicate to politics and thus also acquire special privileges from the party.

Results have not always been on the positive side but some cases have shown exception like Jayalalithaa as the chief minister of Tamil Nadu and leader of AIADMK. Chiranjeevi has also held important ministerial portfolios. But most celebrities have regretted the decision of getting involved in politics. For example Govinda regretted his decision of joining politics and said that it did not suit him and he did not survive more than five years. Similar things happened to Dharmendra. Even cricketers like Mohammas Azharuddin and Navjot Singh Sidhu have not been able to make a mark in politics.Most stars have not been successful inimpressing the public beyond the initial hype and curiosity because of their inaccessibility, poor attendance at the parliament and their distance from reality. For a country like India where majority of voters are poor and illiterate, it is common to find star struck voters and it is easy to divert their attention. Recent addition to politics include Olympic medal winner Rajavardhan Singh Rathore and former princess of Jaipur, Diya Kumari as well asDalerMehendi and chief V.K Singh.

 Now turning to the controversy side; when stars are involved, controversy can’t be far behind. The recent raging controversy of the 32 year old Tollywood actor Dev made headlines when he compared poll frenzy surrounding him to “being raped”. Then comes Moon Moon Sen, who found herself in trouble when she mentioned that “it’s very difficult to look glamorous in summer” and also when allegedly a 3 kilometres stretch of road was watered upon to protect her and her daughters from dust. Then comes football icon Baichung Bhutia who was caught offside during his first press conference to which even local party leaders expressed their unhappiness. Satabdi Roy got the spot light when she announced that she would provide development to areas where she would acquire maximum votes.The recent biggest controversy includes that of Tollywood actor Tapas Pal who is said to have openly threatened people of the opponent party of murder and rape, though the actor denied ever using the word “rape”. This statement created a huge amount of unrest and people demanded immediate cancellation of his candidature and wanted his arrest. Not only the common people, but actors like Aparna Sen, writer Nabanita Deb Sen and reputed film makers have been awestruck by his statement. Apart from this, most of the parties themselves have expressed their grief because of the tantrums they have to tolerate and the extra facilities they have to provide to the stars.

Though it is difficult to actually conclude whether celebrity participation into politics is really a success or a failure, we can predict is this is a trend which is not going to die soon.

Posted by The Indian Economist | For the Curious Mind