With the general elections just around the corner, politics seems to be the flavour of the season — even for members of the Indian film fraternity.
No sooner was actor Mithun Chakraborty picked by the Trinamool Congress (TMC) to represent the party in the Rajya Sabha, came the news of singer and music composer Bappi Lahiri joining the Bharatiya Janta Party (BJP) for the Lok Sabha polls.
"I will do what the party expects me to do," says Lahiri, about his responsibilities. Mithun agreed to this new role as he wanted to do more for West Bengal. "I have always stood by the people and their rights, and I am going to do the same," Mithun had earlier told HT Café.
There are also reports of actors becoming star candidates for political parties. While Moon Moon Sen is a TMC candidate from Bankura in West Bengal, Marathi actor-film-maker Mahesh Manjrekar announced on Sunday (March 9) that he will contest the Lok Sabha elections from Mumbai north-west as a Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) candidate.
"I got a call from (MNS chief) Raj (Thackeray), and I am very happy today," Manjrekar said. He added that “this is the right time” to take the plunge into politics. Bengali actor Biswajit Chatterjee is also being considered by the TC to contest from Delhi.
Singer Jaspinder Narula, too, joined the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) and told the Hindustan Times, "I had worked on a Savarkar project (based on freedom fighter Vinayak Damodar Savarkar) and realised how much our freedom fighters had struggled. Compared to that, we are not doing enough. I found AAP to be the only party that talks of a corruption-free India."
It’s not only those connected to the various Indian film industries that are joining politics. Other celebrities such as Indian footballer Bhaichung Bhutia and hockey legend Dhanraj Pillay have also taken the step.
While Bhutia is set to contest from Darjeeling as a TMC candidate, Pillay has joined the AAP, and is reportedly set to campaign for it throughout the country.
OTHER CELEBRITY CANDIDATES
Vinod Khanna joined the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and has been quite active in politics since 1997.
TV star Smriti Irani, too, joined the BJP in 2003 and has risen through the ranks over time.
Shatrughan Sinha is a BJP MP, while Hema Malini joined the party in 2004 and Kirron Kher in 2009.
Bhojpuri actor Manoj Tiwari contested in the 15th Lok Sabha elections as a candidate for the Samajwadi Party in the Gorakhpur constituency in 2009. He reportedly joined the BJP in 2013.
Raj Babbar is an active Indian National Congress MP.