NEW DELHI/MUMBAI: Stars and pre-poll campaigning have always been an intrinsic part of India's politics.
And keeping the tradition alive, the Bharatiya Janata Party, which leads the coalition Indian government, has decided this year to use not only film actors, but also those from the small-screen. Or so the party says. Judging by some reactions, whether television's bold and beautiful will play ball is open to question?
In what is an indication of the growing influence of television in India, especially satellite television, the BJP says it has decided to rope in not juat a few particular TV artistes but a bunch of them for poll related campaigning in the five states that go to poll later this year, including Delhi and Madhya Pradesh.
"We haven't yet decided on the final list of, but would like to have quite a few from the popular soaps to campaign for the party," BJP's spokesperson and Rajya Sabha (Upper House) Member of Parliament, MA Naqvi, told indiantelevision.com today.
The serials that are on the list of BJP's poll campaign bureau include almost all the Balaji Telefilms tear-jerkers like Kyunki.Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi and Kahaani Ghar Ghar Kii.
BJP is also not restricting itself to any particular channel or its artistes which is indicative of the fact that some stars from Sony's Kkusum too are likely to be roped in for campaigning, according to Naqvi.
"We have realised that apart from the film stars. TV artistes too are popular, especially in smaller towns and cities," Naqvi said. But he refused to dish out any information whether such TV artistes would be given some remuneration or be asked to campaign free of cost.
However, all the television personalities contacted by indiantelevision.com expressed surprise when asked about this. For one, Ekta Kapoor, Creative Head, Balaji Telefilms, said, "There is no substance in all this talk."
Sudha Chandran aka Ramola Sikand of Kaahin Kissii Roz said, "I have not been approached to do any such campaigning."
The actor who plays the title role in Sony's Balaji soap Kkusum, Nausheen Ali Sardar, had the most telling comment to make on the BJP's starry plans. "Which elections are you talking about? When are they going to be held?" she asked, completely clueless about the upcoming assembly elections.
Earlier, the BJP had said Bollywood superstar Shah Rukh Khan (even the reclusive Aamir Khan's name was being bandied about) and yesteryear's dream girl Hema Malini are likely to campaign for the party. But Shah Rukh is not known to do such things free of cost and, going by his current status, may charge the BJP a whopping amount. Naqvi was also not forthcoming whether Khan would be paid a heavy price or not.
But beyond the hype and hoopla of getting the crowds to election rallies, there is no sure shot way of knowing whether the presence of stars and celebrities in pre-election campaigns really convert into votes and success at the hustings.
At the end of the day, stars may shine for sometime on the election horizon, but there is no substitute for good hard work done by the government and candidates at the ground level.