Stardust and glitter on grimy campaign trails

By Shiv Kumaar, IANS
2/7/2004 12:00:00 AM
Adding some stardust to their campaign for upcoming parliamentary elections, political parties have once again started wooing film celebrities.

Once again, actors, big and small, from the small screen to 70mm size, can be expected to hit the road on behalf of various political parties, asking India's star-struck public to vote with them.

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is the first off the block, with movie actors-turned-party leaders Shatrughan Sinha and Vinod Khanna roping in several colleagues, party sources say

According to BJP officials, the party has roped in Smriti Irani, a well-known television actor, and is scouting for more people.

Popular actress Hema Malini is already a member of the Rajya Sabha, the upper house of parliament, courtesy BJP. She is expected to rope in husband Dharmendra for the party's campaign.

Not to be left behind, the Congress party has appointed actor Alok Pandey, brother of Bollywood star Chunky Pandey, as chief coordinator of its film and television cell.

Pandey says the Congress had managed to bring in television compere Annu Kapoor to speak at a party rally addressed by party president Sonia Gandhi.

He said he was hopeful of bringing in others like Govinda, who in recent times has been supportive of the Congress.

Actor and Congress MP Sunil Dutt may have his star son Sanjay Dutt campaigning for him in Mumbai. Though the Congress party was the first to rope in film stars for poll campaigns way back in the 1970s, it had gradually stopped bringing in movie stars.

Other parties are also in the race to woo the stars. Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mulayam Singh Yadav's Samajwadi Party already has some top attractions.

The biggest name of them all, Amitabh Bachchan, a brand ambassador for the Sahara business group, is a known supporter of Yadav and his deputye Amar Singh.

His relationship with the party has been publicly demonstrated time and again - Bachchan and his family even attended Yadav's swearing in.

It is also being speculated that Aishwarya Rai, another brand ambassador for Sahara, may also campaign for the Samajwadi Party.

"However every thing depends on how arrangements are sorted out at the last minute," said a Congress activist.

That is because film stars are notoriously fickle and choosy about the arrangements provided to them when they are campaigning for political parties.