The Telegraph
 
CIMA Gallary

Parties bank on star power

- Film stars add charm to election campaign

Bhubaneswar, April 15: The BJD, which had banked largely on chief minister Naveen Patnaik’s charisma, today demonstrated its apparent nervousness when it paraded Bollywood stars on the last day of canvassing for the final phase of elections.

Naveen made a hectic tour to the coastal belt, addressing a series of meetings and holding road shows at various places, including Bhubaneswar. His party flew in Bollywood actress Raveena Tandon for Tatwa Prakash Satpathy alias Pappu Pom Pom, a popular Odia comedian. Naveen had campaigned for Pappu in the Champua Assembly constituency in Keonjhar district. The BJD had bandied the joining of Pappu and a host of Odia stars, including Anubhav and Mihir Das, on the eve of elections as its prized vote catchers. This has given jitters to its existing party star Siddhant Mohapatra, a popular film star, who is seeking re-election from the Berhampur Lok Sabha seat.

Anubhav is active in the party’s road shows and rallies, while Siddhant’s involvement in the BJD’s electioneering for the two rounds of elections has not been as visible. Siddhant was forced to confine himself to his constituency in view of widespread voter discontent for his perceived inaccessibility.

“All of us as individuals, whether starts or not, have a lot to contribute towards the Indian polity. I have come to campaign for Pappu as he belongs to my fraternity,” Raveena said. Incidentally, she had campaigned in 2009 in Champua for industrialist Jitu Patnaik. He had won the election as an Independent but joined the BJD just before the 2014 elections hoping to get the party’s nomination for the Champua seat.

In Bhubaneswar (north) Assembly seat, grandson of legendary play back singer Mukesh and Bollywood youth icon Neil Nitin Mukesh today campaigned for BJD electoral debutante Priyadarshi Mishra. The party fielded Mishra from the constituency, shifting sitting MLA Bhagirathi Badajena to Jatni. Neil also campaigned for Ekamra candidate Ashok Panda, who faces a tough electoral battle.

Bollywood star Suniel Shetty had canvassed for school and mass education minister Rabi Naryan Nanda in the Jeypore Assembly seat in Koraput district in the first phase of the campaign. “These stars add colour and glitz to the campaign. Many leaders banked on Odia film stars to give a boost to their election campaigns as it is not possible for Naveen to reach out to each constituency,” said a senior BJD leader.

The BJD, besides relying on the star value of these Hindi film industry actors, also sent text messages and made phone calls to voters in the coastal belt. The phone calls carried voice messages of Naveen seeking votes for his party.

The Congress, too, is relying on Odia star power. Congress’s Cuttack Lok Sabha candidate Aparajita Mohanty and its Bhubanewsar candidate Bijay Mohanty have been campaigning for the party in the coastal belt. Today, Babusan, who is a heartthrob of Odia youth, joined her mother in seeking votes for the Congress party. Tandra Ray, Bijay’s wife, who, too, reigned Odia film industry in the early 1980s, has been lending a helping hand to her husband in Bhubaneswar.

The BJP, too, is not lagging behind. Bollywood actress Mahima Chaudhury was in the state to seek votes for BJP’s Bijoy Mohapatra in the Mahakalpada Assembly constituency in Kendrapara district. The party has drafted cricketer-turned-politician Navjot Singh Sidhu, popular for his appearance in a popular Hindi comedy show, to tour the state for his party candidates.


 More stories in Front Page

  • Misa swings by 'Moodyji'
  • SC opens India's third eye
  • Parties bank on star power
  • Out of comfort zone, but still at home
  • Modi revs up BJP poll pitch
  • Gopal hits Reliance, Modi with one stone