The party has asked its leaders to rope in movie stars and cricketers ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.
New Delhi: Determined to mount a poll campaign high on glamour in the coming Lok Sabha elections, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has asked its leaders to get known faces — intellectuals, artists, actors and athletes among others — into the party’s fold.
The latest entrant to the BJP’s star parivar is Moushumi Chatterjee, the yesteryear actress who has many popular Hindi and Bengali films to her credit. Chatterjee joined the saffron party Wednesday evening, literally in front of the cameras.
Highly-placed sources in the BJP said more such stars are likely to be inducted into the party. Celebrities on the BJP’s radar include Madhuri Dixit, Kangana Ranaut, Preity Zinta, Pallavi Joshi, Raveena Tandon and Akshay Kumar.
The party has also been wooing cricketers Kapil Dev, Rahul Dravid, Anil Kumble, Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir, besides former football captain Baichung Bhutia.
Between 2008 and 2013, Kumble had been appointed the vice-chairman of the Karnataka State Wildlife Board, a position equivalent to a cabinet minister, in the then B.S. Yeddyurappa government in the state.
As for Madhuri Dixit, party president Amit Shah had met her during his “Sampark for Samarthan” programme. It is believed that the party is keen to field her in Maharashtra.
BJP looks for known faces in Bengal
There is speculation that Moushumi Chatterjee, the Kolkata-born actress, may be fielded in West Bengal.
Shah has set a target of winning 22 of the 42 Lok Sabha seats in West Bengal but faced with stiff competition from the ruling Trinamool Congress (TMC), the saffron party has been scrambling to get hold of popular and recognisable faces in the state.
Chatterjee is not the only on-screen personality from West Bengal to be inducted into the BJP in recent times. In 2015, the party brought in Rupa Ganguly, famous for her role as Draupadi in the tele-series Mahabharata, while its MP from Asansol is the popular singer Babul Supriyo.
This is not Chatterjee’s first stint in politics. She was earlier with the Congress. “I am here because I am a huge fan of Modi and I myself would like to work for society. Therefore, if I get BJP support, I will be able to make a mark,” Chatterjee said while joining the party.
BJP’s glam-power in Parliament
The BJP already has a number of celebrity MPs, apart from Babul Supriyo.
Its MP from Chandigarh is the actress Kirron Kher, while Shatrughan Sinha represents Patna Sahib, Hema Malini is the Mathura MP, Bhojpuri singer-actor Manoj Tiwari represents Northeast Delhi and Paresh Rawal is the Ahmedabad East MP.
Eager to join this list is yesteryear cinema star Poonam Dhillon, who has been meeting BJP leaders in the national capital and eyeing a ticket from a constituency in Mumbai.
She had joined the BJP in 2004 and was appointed Mumbai BJP vice-president in November this year, a move that drew criticism from filmmaker and social activist Ashoke Pandit, who questioned her contribution to the party and society at large.
Dhillon, 56, who has acted in more than 90 films, including Trishul, Sohni Mahiwal, Jai Shiv Shankar and Noorie, retorted that she could not play a very active role because she had several other commitments and responsibilities. She further said that she had been doing socially relevant work for years, urging Pandit not to be cynical.
Read Global Pulse for a sampler of the big international stories, and why they matter.