Can celebrities convert popularity into votes?
2019 general elections have a new crop of celebrities entering the political fray with both the big rivals – BJP and Congress wooing them in the hope of bringing in the much-needed votes. Previous experiments with movie stars and other celebrities have largely flopped in terms of people and party expectations in performance.
These are the new faces in the political fray, and the question remains open if their popularity will succeed in adding precious votes for their parties
- Sunny Deol
Recently met BJP president Amit Shah and was followed by his much-publicized entry as the BJP candidate from Gurdaspur, Punjab. Soft-spoken and introvert, beyond the initial curiosity, he will have to lift himself to meet people’s expectations from their candidate.
- Urmila Matondkar
Daughter of a banker-cum-union leader, actress Urmila Matondkar has joined the Congress and is standing from the Mumbai North seat.
- Prakash Raj
Popular actor Prakash Raj has been vocal on political, social and economic issues and gave early indications of joining the political fray. He is contesting as an independent candidate from Bengaluru Central.
- Hans Raj Hans
Punjabi and Sufi singer and songwriter Hans Raj Hans joined the BJP and is contesting the Delhi North West seat, earlier held by Udit Raj who has now joined the Congress on denial of ticket to him.
- Nusrat Jahan
Bengali actress joined Trinamool Congress Party and is contesting the Basirhat seat in Kolkata. She hopes to consolidate TMC’s hold in the area.
Popular Bhojpuri actor Dinesh Lal Yadav a.k.a Nirahua has joined BJP and faces SP Leader and former CM Akhilesh Yadav in the Azamgarh constituency.
- Mimi Chakraborty
Another star Mamata Banerjee roped into her party is Bengali actress Mimi Chakraborty. She replaces TMC sitting MP Sugata Bose for the prestigious Jadavpur seat.
- Vijender Singh
International professional boxer Vijender Singh joins a list of sportspersons who have taken the political plunge. He joins the Congress party and will contest the Delhi South seat.
- Gautam Gambhir
Former Test Cricket player Gautam Gambhir built quite a reputation as an active tweeter on several issues. His entry into politics and BJP comes as no surprise and will be contesting the Delhi East seat.
Higher ambitions with more candidates – BJP’s mantra in 2019
National political parties demonstrate poll confidence and strength through the number of candidates they field in each general elections. The Indian National Congress has always held the mantle of the biggest national party in Indian politics and has consequently fielded the largest number of candidates across India.
Since its inception, BJP has held the ambition of being accepted as a truly national party and has fielded the second largest number of candidates.
In 2019, for the first time, BJP is fielding more candidates than the Congress, reflecting its ambition and confidence as India’s largest national party.
In 2009 general elections, the Congress fielded 440 candidates; 206 candidates won while 71 lost their deposit.
The same year, BJP fielded 433 candidates; 116 candidates won while 170 lost their deposit.
In 2014 general elections, the Congress fielded 464 candidates; 44 won while 178 lost their deposit.
The same year, BJP fielded 428 candidates; 282 won while 62 lost their deposit. Note, the BSP fielded the largest number of candidates – 0 won while 447 lost their deposit.
In 2019, BJP is fielding 437 candidates; Congress – 423, with some more to be announced. Both the BJP and Congress aim to improve their 2014 tally.
The thinking behind the Badal’s poll gambit
Former Punjab CM and Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) leader Sukhbir Singh Badal is contesting the Ferozepur seat and his wife, and Union Minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal is contesting from Bhatinda.
SAD lost the assembly elections to Congress due to anti-incumbency, anti-party sentiment on account of handling sacrilege incidents, lack of jobs, and rising problem of alcoholism in the state.
So, what led Sukhbir Singh Badal to stand in these elections and from Ferozepur? Can the move backfire and cost the Badals politically?
The Badals, it seems, are taking a calculated risk. Harsimrat Kaur has a stronger chance in Bhatinda than her husband in Ferozepur. A win for both will increase their chance of a central role in the central government should BJP-led NDA form the next government. They will bide their time in Delhi and wait for anti-incumbency to build against the Amarinder Singh-led government in Punjab before pitching in for the next assembly polls. A defeat for both Sukhbir and Harsimrat will mean a major setback for SAD while a defeat for Sukhbir will mean a consolidation for Capt. Amarinder Singh and the Congress in the state.