As the political temperature in West Bengal, looking at the upcoming assembly elections continues to rise, a different kind of game has been developing in the background of a nasty electoral competition between the BJP and the Mamata Banerjee led TMC. In this game where the political parties have been attracting stars from the silver screen and also the TV screen to propel their electoral ambitions, TMC clearly had a lead as several famous Bengali stars featured as candidates in the much critical general elections in May this year. A TMC Rajya Sabha MP had also outlined the thought behind getting this additional star power in the elections and claimed that they are not only huge crowd pullers from where they campaign but also draw crowds in adjacent constituencies.
As the BJP focused on the many flaws of Mamata Banerjee government, the TMC followed the star power strategy to stay relevant. This strategy has been in the constant focus of TMC since 2011, which over the past years has added a number of such ‘crowd pullers’ to its camp. Nusrat Jahan and Mimi Chakraborty are two such star names which got a lot of media attention in the run up to the general Elections. Both contested successfully as TMC candidates in the Parliamentary elections from Basirhat and Jadavpur Parliamentary constituencies respectively.
Others who missed the spotlight include, famous Bengali actress, film director and TMC member Shatabdi Roy who successfully contested form the Birbhum Parliamentary Constituency for the third time, Shatabdi Roy is the Birbhum MP since 2009. Another Famous actor Deepak Adhikari or more popularly known as Dev has also successfully contested on TMC ticket from Ghatal in both the 2014 and 2019 general elections. However, another controversial star Moon Moon Sen who got in the spotlight after her insensitive ‘bed tea’ remark over political violence, lost against BJP’s own star candidate, Babul Supriyo from Asansol Parliamentary Constituency.
Nonetheless, BJP taking note of this successful strategy has now also upped the ante with its set of star power for the electoral contests. Recently, several Movie and TV stars joined the saffron train in presence of its West Bengal unit head Dilip Ghosh and senior functionary Mukul Roy and BJP leaders Sambit Patra and Rahul Sinha were also present in the induction ceremony. The list included Parno Mittra, Rishi Kaushik, Kanchana Moitra, Rupanjana Mitra and Biswajit Ganguly and others who took the political leap.
Delhi: 12 Bengali film & television actors, joined BJP in presence of party leaders Mukul Roy & Dilip Ghosh, earlier today. pic.twitter.com/iqP19smHnO
— ANI (@ANI) July 18, 2019
Welcoming the 12 Bengali film and television actors who had joined the BJP, Dilip Ghosh had said that the people in West Bengal are inspired by the leadership of PM Narendra Modi, he also these actors deserve credit for their “courage” as it has become “risky” for people and stars to join the BJP in West Bengal under Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee.
This general election saw the Mamata Banerjee led TMC losing massive political ground to the BJP in West Bengal and it may have fared worse had it not wielded star power with stars like Nusrat Jahan and Mimi Chakraborty. The saffron party, given clear strategy and groundwork, has been successful in making huge political inroads in the state, with its vote percentage jumping from a mere 17 % in 2014 to 40% in 2019 general election, dangerously close to the TMC. Jump in the total seats won by the BJP in West Bengal, from 2 in 2014 general election to 18 in the 2019 general election out of 42, also followed the spike in vote percentage.
BJPs move to get in more star firepower on its side will surely not go down well with the TMC camp which is already struggling to save political ground against the saffron party. With the tide rising in favour of BJP, it is poised to reap greater benefits from the star power and ultimately beat TMC in its own game. Nonetheless, with BJP now recognizing the utility of star power the upcoming state assembly elections are sure to see a star-studded electoral battle.