Come May 23, the Lok Sabha election results will be out. There are political parties and there are politicians and they are prepared for any eventuality: win or lose. They survive in politics if they keep the bosses happy. They will stay to fight another election.
How about actors turned politicians? What happens to the film stars after the elections? It won’t be so bad for the stars from the winning party, the ones from the losing party will have a lot to explain. The taunts will continue till the next elections. As in the box office, so in politics: a star needs to have drawing power. So far, a star’s drawing power had been used by netas during rallies or events to attract and entertain gatherings.
It was followed by a time famous stars were fielded against stalwarts from opposition parties who were unbeatable. Like Amitabh Bachchan was pitted against the Uttar Pradesh veteran HN Bahuguna in 1984. Often, an actor is talked into contesting from a seat no career politician is willing to risk.
Later, in the 1991 election, Rajesh Khanna was ‘used’ against LK Advani in Delhi. Khanna lost by a thin margin of around 1,600 votes. Advani vacated the Delhi seat and retained Gandhinagar; he also won it. In the by-election that followed, Rajesh Khanna fought BJP’s Shatrughan Sinha and won by over 28,000 votes—a clear proof of exploiting film people.
Likewise, Govinda was used in 2004. He was pitted against BJP veteran Ram Naik from Mumbai North. Govinda won, but was neither prepared for nor knew what being a people’s representative meant. People from his constituency, especially Virar, the distant suburb where he came from, expected a lot from him. Voters expect a lot from you —financial aid, school admissions, jobs and area improvement. Govinda himself had never had the privilege of such things. He now lived in Juhu and his voters followed him there. But, he would hide in a bungalow opposite his flat.
Favour seekers found out that too but he seemed to have had enough of being an MP. These were not the things he had bargained for! So far, film stars and other celebs like cricketers were being used by parties. They were pitted against giants partymen could not beat.
If a celeb won or lost, it was no loss to the party. The film stars were being made scapegoats. If a star lost against a stalwart of an opposition party, the star had lost, not the ruling party that fielded him. The celebs meant nothing except adding to a party’s tally. It was especially true in 1991 when Rajesh Khanna added a seat to the Congress tally which lacked a majority in Parliament on its own.
However, these stars’ presence did not amount to anything. They did not get due importance once they won. Amitabh Bachchan left his MP ship midway. Rajesh Khanna stuck around but failed to win the next election. Govinda, as mentioned earlier, was not meant to take responsibility and did not want to contest again.
I have seen one picture which has been in circulation for a long time. It is about a film delegation pictured with the then PM, Indira Gandhi. In this pic, only Mrs Gandhi sits on a chair while those from the film industry including Raj Kapoor, Dilip Kumar, Manoj Kumar, are either made to stand or squat on the ground! So subdued was the film industry in those days.