Odiya film artistes try their luck at politics

As Odisha draws nearer to the Lok Sabha and Assembly elections in April, film and television personalities are in a mad rush to join different political outfits, particularly in the state’s three major parties – the ruling Biju Janata Dal (BJD), Congress and BJP.

Banking on their popularity among voters, parties in the state have given tickets to various actors, music directors and singers to contest the coming polls. As expected, film stars have favoured the Naveen Patnaik-led BJD, which stands a fair chance of a repeat victory in the upcoming Lok Sabha and Assembly elections.

In fact, the trend of “stars” joining the BJD began during the 2009 Lok Sabha and Assembly elections, when popular actor Siddhanta Mohapatra joined the Patnaik-led party. He was immediately offered the prestigious Berhampur Lok Sabha seat where he emerged a clear victor after defeating former union minister and Congress nominee Chandrasekhar Sahu. The two rivals are set to lock horns once again this election.

Apart from Mohapatra, the BJD has given tickets to two other Ollywood personalities – lead actor Akash Das Nayak for the Korei Assembly constituency in coastal Jajpur district and popular comedian Tatwa Prakash Satpathy alias Pappu Pom Pom for the Champua Assembly seat in North Odisha’s Keonjhar district.

Both joined the regional outfit recently, with Patnaik announcing Pom Pom’s candidature on Monday.

“I was asked by the party leadership which seat I would prefer to contest from. I conveyed that I may be considered for any seat as entire Odisha is my constituency,” the popular comedian, who originally hails from Mayurbhanj, said.

Actors Anubhav Mohanty, Mihir Das, Satwaki Mishra and singer Tripti Das have also joined the BJD. The film personalities are expected to campaign extensively for the upcoming twin polls.

The Congress has also fielded two prominent names in the Odiya film industry – actors Bijoy Mohanty and Aparajiata Mohanty – for the prestigious and politically important Lok Sabha constituencies of Bhubaneswar and Cuttack respectively.

The BJP has inducted actors Sritam Das, Pintu Nanda and Pinky Pradhan into its party fold. “We are impressed by the leadership of Narendra Modi,” they said, while accepting the primary membership of the party recently. However, the BJP has not given any of the actors tickets to contest the elections.

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