PM Modi Campaigns For Bollywood Star Kangana Ranaut As BJP Is Desperate To Retain Mandi Seat Owing To Its Prestige

PM Modi Campaigns For Bollywood Star Kangana Ranaut As BJP Is Desperate To Retain Mandi Seat Owing To Its Prestige

PM established a new relation of being elder brother of Kangana which may benefit her as it sends signal of her closeness to Modi. She is die-hard devotee (Bhakt) of Modi hence thinks that India attained real independence after 2014 when Modi became the prime minister.

KS TomarUpdated: Wednesday, May 29, 2024, 07:48 PM IST
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PM Modi Campaigns For Bollywood Star, Kangana As BJP Is Desperate To Retain Mandi Seat Owing To Its’ Prestige |

Sunny Deol could not uproot any ‘hand-pumps’ in the domain of politics but it could not desist the ‘Jhansi Ki Rani’ Kangana Ranaut to jump into the electoral fray from her hometown Mandi, in Himachal Pradesh. It is a prestigious seat for the BJP high command which gave a ticket to a ‘parachute’ by ignoring the genuine claim of the senior leaders hence prime minister, Narendra Modi addressed a huge rally at Mandi town on May 24. PM established a new relation of being elder brother of Kangana which may benefit her as it sends signal of her closeness to Modi. She is die-hard devotee (Bhakt) of Modi hence thinks that India attained real independence after 2014 when Modi became the prime minister.

Many of the box-office hits have bombed in the political arena of north India except the ‘dream girl’ Hema Malini, who is still going strong as a ‘Jat bahu’ from Mathura in western Uttar Pradesh and late Vinod Khanna, who seamlessly turned into an astute politicians after being a ‘heartthrob’ in 1980s. Northern political winds in India blow in different patterns and that is why superstars like Amitabh Bachchan could not handle the gruel of politics while his ‘sharabi’ heroine Jaya Prada needed the umbrella of a mentor like Amar Singh always by her side, till he breathed last.

Back to a ‘novice politician’ Kangana. She is being haunted during the election campaign owing to two pejorative issues? First, Kangana’s absence during the catastrophe in July/August last year has become handy for Congress which is exploiting it to the hilt. All 17 assembly segments of the Mandi Lok Sabha seat were hit due to natural disaster but she remained confined to her abode in Mumbai. The political opponents are accusing her of being an absentee resident of Mandi and affected people will have to hanker in business capital, Mumbai for the redressal of grievances if she wins. Second, a Bollywood actress had taken to Twitter and shared a video of the Dalai Lama with his tongue out, standing next to US President ,Joe Biden and caption read “The Dalai Lama receives a warm welcome at White House. “ She had to apologise later and clarified that she did not mean to hurt feelings of anyone. But followers of the spiritual leader have not pardoned her hence Buddhists recently organised a demonstration at Kaza, a part of Lahaul Spiti which falls in Mandi constituency and showed black flags and placards “Go Back” which was condemned by BJP state leaders.

The parliamentary election of the Mandi constituency has become a lively affair this time as film star Kangana is pitted against Public Works Minister, Vikramaditya Singh,a son of six time chief minister, late Virbhadra Singh . Kangana is a native of a small village in the Mandi district and her phenomenal rise of a little girl from the non-descriptive village of Bhambala in Mandi district in Himachal Pradesh, can be attributed to her sheer determination, commitment and will power. She is trying to create an emotional connection with voters thereby citing her struggle and subsequent achievements in the film world. The crowds are thronging to her rallies but it is extremely difficult to predict whether she will be benefited when they go to polling booths on June 1?

Despite the lack of a visible wave, Kangana is pinning her hope on the high popularity and ‘charisma’ of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. BJP had won all four Lok Sabha seats in Himachal in 2019 and polled over 69.11% votes. BJP nominee established lead in all 17 segments of Mandi constituency hence it is a big challenge to retain it especially in the face of local issues of unemployment, price rise, state’s economic crisis etc. BJP’s vote share had dwindled during state assembly elections in 2022 which came down to 43%, a drop of 16.11% when compared with previous parliamentary polls. Touring all the seventeen assembly segments in the Mandi parliamentary constituency has posed a huge challenge for Kangana as she is unaware of the topography, especially far-flung tribal areas of Bharmour, Lahaul & Spiti and Kinnaur.

Experts say that the film actor is facing a horde of challenges in her current role which cannot be synonymous with fairy tales or films. On a mandatory basis, the voters would expect her to be a full-time politician and make Mandi parliamentary constituency; she is promising to make Mandi as her permanent abode for an easy approach to get their works done. Kangana is also having the luxury of support of disciplined BJP party cadres, vast resources and well-oiled machinery of RSS in her ground work.

Congress nominee, Vikaramaditya enjoys the inherent advantages of having acquaintances with the voters which has become meaningful as his family has represented Mandi seat six times and his mother Pratibha singh, state party chief is sitting MP. Vikramaditya is focussing on local issues including the centre’s failure to announce a special package to help victims of last year’s catastrophe and the inaccessibility of Kangana.

The battle for the Mandi Lok Sabha seat in Himachal Pradesh has intensified, with the Congress banking on the legacy of the late six-time Chief Minister, Virbhadra Singh. Consequently, the party has nominated his son and current PWD Minister, Vikramaditya Singh, to contest against BJP's candidate and Bollywood actress, Kangana Ranaut. Contrary to expectations, this contest doesn't involve the incumbent Congress MP, Pratibha Singh, but rather pits Vikramaditya, the scion of the former royal family of Rampur Bushahr, against the Bollywood star. Kangana's candidacy has garnered special favour from the BJP's central leadership, eager to secure her success in her political debut from the hilly state.

This matchup not only tests the local leadership's prestige, including former Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur and state unit chief Dr. Rajiv Bindal but also challenges the national leadership's decision to prioritize a film personality over seasoned politicians. Kangana's vocal support of Hindutva and frequent clashes with Congress and Shiv Sena leaders have earned her backing from the RSS.

The clash symbolizes a stark contrast between the Bollywood star, known for her roles in films like "Queen," and Vikramaditya, an established politician with a royal lineage. Political observers are rating it as a lively and uncertain contest, though it's premature to predict an outcome with polling scheduled for June 1st. In this backdrop, Vikramaditya's upbringing in a political family and his father's illustrious career provide him with a strong foundation in state politics. His deep-rooted connections across all seventeen assembly segments, inherited from his parents' decades-long service, offer him a considerable advantage. Moreover, his youth, ancestral ties, oratory skills, social media presence, and endorsement by the Congress high command may reinforce his campaign.

In final assessment, the electoral battle in Mandi promises to be a captivating spectacle, as two contrasting personalities vie for parliamentary representation. While Vikramaditya Singh leverages his political lineage and experience, Kangana Ranaut relies on her celebrity status and endorsement by national leaders. As the election unfolds, voters will weigh each candidate's strengths and weaknesses, shaping the future political landscape of Himachal Pradesh.

(Writer is a political analyst and senior journalist based in Shimla)

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