New Delhi, March 29 (IANS) It’s election time and can the stars be for behind? There are the veterans and there are the newbies, each hoping for a share of a pie. And from all accounts, they’re all having a ball as they come down to earth, as it were, to seek a different kind of moolah – votes.
Let’s begin with the newbies.
Urmila Matondkar has come a long way from her “Rangeela” days to be named the Congress candidate from Mumbai (North), a day after she joined the Grand Old Party. “I am here to stay – even after the elections,” she grandly declared on Thursday, never mind if she faces a formidable rival in incumbent BJP MP Gopal Shettty.
Two thousand km away, Basirhat Nusrat Jahan (Trinamool Congress) has put her best foot forward since the first day of her campaign last week, mingling with party workers, interacting with her fans and even singing popular numbers from her movies for them.
The 28-year-old-actress of “Zulfiqar” fame is pitted against seasoned politicians like BJP’s Sayantan Basu and CPI’s Pallab Sengupta and Congress contender Qazi Abdur Rahim.
Then, there’s Mimi Chakraborty. She made her way to the Bengali drawing rooms clad in cotton sarees with the lead role in ‘Ganeer Opare’, a television series revolving around Nobel laureate poet Rabindranath Tagore’s compositions, and made her film debut with “Bapi Bari Ja’ in 2012.
Up against the CPI-M’s Bikash Ranjan Bhattacharya and Anupam of the BJP, she has her task cut out.
And, there are the veterans, led by Moon Moon Sen, daughter of Bengali screen legend Suchitra Sen. An Oxford alumnus, Moon Moon’s bikini-clad onscreen romps once brought men to their knees.
She entered parliamentary politics with a bang in 2014, upsetting CPI-M veteran Basudeb Acharia – a nine time MP – in Bankura. She now takes on BJP’s sitting MP Babul Supriyo in Asansol, in what promises to be a humdinger of a contest.
As for Babul Supryo, Bollywood’s singer-actor-politician has given hits like “Pari Hai Ek Pari…”, “Chanda Chamke…” and “Dil Ne Dil Ko Pukara…”. He left a lucrative job at a multinational bank to pursue his first love singing and after ruling the charts with his mesmerising voice, won as a BJP candidate from West Bengal’s Asansol in 2014 to become a union minister.
Let’s also not forget Tollywood’s Locket Chatterjee, who has acted in around 30 films and was nominated for the Filmfare Award for Best Actor Supporting Role (Female) – Bengali for “Nayika Sangbad”.
The 48-year-old is now the president of the Bengal unit of the BJP Mahila Morcha and the party candidate for Hooghly, against sitting MP Ratna De (Nag) of the Trinamool and Pradip Saha of the CPI-M. Fighting in an area where Trinamool is considered overwhelmingly strong, Chatterjee seems to be in an unfavourable terrain.
There’s also Dev, the reigning Bengali film hero who made his acting debut in the 2006 movie “Agnishapathbut”. The sitting Lok Sabha member from Ghatal, Dev is fighting to retain the seat against former IPS Bharati Ghosh.
Shifting back to Bollywood, if yesteryears star Hema Malini, who has declared assets worth Rs 101 crore is wowing her votes in Mathura, from where she is seeking re-election, so is actress Navneet Kaur-Rana dazzling Amravati in Maharashtra – not to be confused with the similarly named Andhra Pradesh capital.
The veteran South Indian film actress will challenge the formidable five-time Shiv Sena MP Anandrao V. Adsul from the Amravati Lok Sabha constituency in Vidarbha.
“The Excitement” Mumbai-born Punjabi actress is married to Ravi Rana, an independent legislator from Badnera in Amravati district and the nephew and close confidante of yoga guru and Patanjali group chief Ramdev Baba.
Let’s shift now to Andhra Pradesh, where Lok Sabha and Assembly elections are to be held simultaneously.
Pawan Kalyan, popular as a ‘power star’ in Telugu film circles, he and Jana Sena Party, founded by him, are making their electoral debut. The 50-year-old leading actor is contesting the elections from two Assembly constituencies – Gajuwaka in Visakhapatnam and Bhimavaram in West Godavari district. In both the constituencies he is facing outgoing MLAs of ruling TDP. In 2014, Pawan had only campaigned for the TDP-BJP combine.
He is trying to achieve what his elder brother and superstar Chiranjeevi could not in 2009. Chiranjeevi’s Praja Rajyam Party came a cropper, winning just 18 seats in 294-member Assembly of then undivided Andhra Pradesh. He later merged his party with the Congress.
Nagababu: Pawan Kalyan’s elder brother K. Nagababu is contesting as Jana Sena candidate from Narsapuram Lok Sabha constituency. He faces a tough fight from BJP, the YSRCP and TDP candidates.
N. Balakrishna: Son of Telugu Desam Party (TDP) founder and former Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N. T. Rama Rao, Balakrishna is seeking re-election from Hindupur Assembly constituency. He’s the brother-in-law of Chief Minister and TDP president N. Chandrababu Naidu.
R.K. Roja: Former actress R.K. Roja of the YSR Congress is contesting from Nagari constituency for a second consecutive term. Facing G. Bhanu Prakash of TDP, she is likely to retain the seat.
In Tamil Nadu, there’s A. Mansoor Ali Khan with two wives, three daughters and four sons. He became a popular villain in DMDK founder A. Vijayakant starrer “Captain Prabhakaran”. With his Naam Tamizhar Katchi party, he will again be crossing swords with candidates from stronger and bigger parties like the DMK and the PMK, with remote chances of victory.
In Kerala, there’s Innocent, one of the most popular comedians in the Malayalam film industry. When named by the CPI-M to contest the 2014 Lok Sabha polls from his home town of Chalakkudy in Thrissur district, he was the biggest surprise turned giant killer when he trounced Congress veteran P.C.Chacko.
This time, however, Innocent is on the back foot.
In Odisha, BJD’s Rajya Sabha MP and Odia cine star Anubhav Mohanty will contest against BJP Vice President Baijayant Panda from the Kendrapara constituency.
Panda was elected from the constituency in 2009 and 2014 on a BJD ticket but switched earlier this year to the BJP.
Odia actress Pinky Pradhan will contest the Assembly polls from Digapahandi constituency against senior BJD leader Surjya Narayan Patro and the Congress’ Prafulla Panda.