While the focus remained on the bigwigs from various parties, their campaigns and their strategies, this election also saw parties placing a lot of trust on celebrities in a bid to capitalise on their fan factor. In a country where cinema, cricket and politics are closely followed, it is but natural for them to intermix.
As congratulations pour in for Prime Minister Narendra Modi for a second term and leading the Bharatiya Janata Party to its best-ever tally in the Lok Sabha, the 2019 general elections finally draw to a close, bringing to an end one of the most bitterly fought and closely watched battles between political heavyweights from either side. While the focus remained on the bigwigs from various parties, their campaigns and their strategies, this election also saw parties placing a lot of trust on celebrities in a bid to capitalise on their fan factor. In a country where cinema, cricket and politics are closely followed, it is but natural for them to intermix.
This is how these celebrity candidates are faring so far –
Smriti Irani: The Giant Slayer
Though entrenched deeply in politics, this former television star has turned out to be among the biggest giant slayers of all time. BJP leader Smriti Irani today scripted history, with Rahul Gandhi conceding in Amethi, a seat that had been a pocket borough of the Gandhi family for decades now. As per trends at around 5 PM, the minister was leading Rahul Gandhi by a margin of 28,000 votes. And as final figures now show that Irani has won with a margin of over 55,000 votes. The Amethi Lok Sabha constituency has been a traditional Congress stronghold and was held by Sanjay Gandhi in 1980, making it a legacy seat after his brother Rajiv Gandhi held it four times in a row – from 1981-1991. The seat was briefly held by Congress MP Satish Sharma and BJP’s Sanjay Sinh but Sonia Gandhi won the seat in 1999 and remained an MP from Amethi till 2004 when Rahul Gandhi took over as the MP. In the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, Irani had lost to Rahul by a margin of around 1 lakh votes but stayed put in the constituency and worked hard to earn this win.
Sunny Deol – Blockbuster Debut
BJP’s Gurdaspur candidate made his entry into politics just ahead of elections and it is safe to safe to say it was a blockbuster debut. He got 5,58,719 votes, including 7,542 postal votes, defeating Congress’s Sunil Jakhar, who got 4,76,260 votes. His father, legendary actor Dharmendra, is a former BJP MP from Bikaner and his mother Hema Malini, also from the BJP, is the incumbent MP from Mathura. Up against a seasoned politician, Deol led a vigorous campaign against Punjab Congress chief Jakhar. The MP won the Lok Sabha seat in the 2017 bypoll after the death of Vinod Khanna when he defeated BJP candidate Swaran Salaria by a whopping margin of 1,93,219 votes. Actor-turned-politician Vinod Khanna held the seat in 1998, 1999, 2004 and 2014.
Gautam Gambhir – Out of the Park!
BJP nominee from East Delhi Lok Sabha constituency Gautam Gambhir is leading the tally by over 3 lakh votes with 52.2 percent votes while AAP’s Atishi has garnered 1.50 lakh votes. The outspoken former cricketer was expected to dabble into politics a long time ago but delayed it till the elections. Gambhir immediately jumped into controversy following his entry into the party after his rival and Aam Aadmi Party leader Atishi accusing him of circulating derogatory pamphlets, which the cricketer-turned-politician had vehemently denied. Gambhir’s campaign was based largely on the Prime Minister’s anti-terror and nation security plank, something that he has shown affinity to in the past as well.
Urmila Matondkar – A failed start
Actress-turned-politician Urmila Matondkar Congress nominee Urmila Matondkar was defeated by BJP candidate Gopal Shetty with a margin of 4,65,247 votes. Matondkar had said that she was in the long haul in politics after she joined the grand old party. In the 2014 general elections, Gopal Shetty had defeated Congress party’s Sanjay Nirupam receiving 70.10 percent of the votes in the constituency.
Hema Malini – Dream Run
Sitting Mathura MP Hema Malini from the BJP defeated her rival candidate of the grand alliance of the SP-BSP-RLD, Kunwar Narendra Singh, by over 2 lakh votes. She had won the Mathura seat in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections as well. Her election campaign this year saw its fair share of controversies – be it over her photo-ops or her five-star campaign. However, voters reposed their faith in her, setting the stage for her return to Lok Sabha.
Jaya Prada – Bitter Loss
Having been subjected to insults and sexist jabs at the hands of her rival candidate and Samajwadi Party heavyweight Azam Khan from Rampur, Jaya Prada failed to translate the sympathy she received into votes. Jaya Prada was defeated by a margin of over 1 lakh votes. The Rampur seat was held by BJP’s Dr Nepal Singh since 2014. A former SP leader, Jaya Prada recently switched over the BJP and was handed a ticket from the Rampur Lok Sabha seat.
Ravi Kishan – Bhojpuri Swag
Bhojpuri star and a popular face in UP and Bihar, BJP nominee Ravi Kishan defeated Rambhual Nishad of Samajwadi Party by a margin of 3,01,664 votes. Actor Ravi Kishan who joined the BJP in February 2017 was fielded against Madhusudan Tripathi of Congress and Rambhual Nishad of SP-BSP-RLD for the Gorakhpur Lok Sabha seat, a constituency which is considered the home turf of Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath. He vacated the seat after he was appointed the Chief Minister. The BJP lost the seat to the SP-BSP alliance candidate in 2018. A BJP citadel since 1991, Gorakhpur was held by UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath till 2018 when SP’s Praveen Kumar Nishad won the seat.
Babul Supriyo vs Moon Moon Sen
A former Bollywood singer, BJP candidate and Union minister Babul Supriyo won from the Asansol Lok Sabha seat where he was pitted against Trinamool Congress’ Moon Moon Sen. Supriyo has matured into a seasoned politician and has shown the gumption to take on the administrative might of the TMC in a bitterly polarised election. Moon Moon Sen, on the other hand, waded into controversy on the day of voting in her constituency when she said she wasn’t aware of violence allegedly by TMC goons as “she was served bed tea very late”. TMC’s Moon Moon Sen represented Bishnupur in Lok Sabha till 2019. A row erupted when in Barabani, BJP’s Babul Supriyo’s vehicle was allegedly vandalised by TMC workers in front of a polling station. An FIR was also registered against Supriyo for allegedly arguing with polling officials.
Shatrughan Sinha – Silenced
Yesteryears actor and a former BJP rebel who jumped ship to the Congress after being denied a ticket was defeated by 2.84 lakh votes against his BJP rival and Union minister Ravi Shankar Prasad. The incumbent Lok Sabha MP from Patna Sahib, Sinha parted ways with the BJP after being openly critical of the party’s top leadership and even participating in Opposition events. This was one of the most closely watched battles which the rebel BJP leader has lost after representing the constituency since 2009.