Though not quite in the mould of Tamil Nadu, cinema and politics are fast converging in Karnataka, judging by the number of aspirants for the Assembly elections from tinsel town (Sandalwood).
Stars already in politics are a privileged lot. The former Union Minister and Congress candidate M.H. Ambareesh managed to get ticket from the constituency of his choice, Mandya. Not only that, he wangled the Srirangapatna seat for a candidate of his choice. Umashree, another actor from the Congress, wanted Terdal segment in Bagalkot district and got it.
Police officer turned actor B.C. Patil, who represented Congress in Hirekerur in Haveri disrict, pitched his claim for the same constituency this time around. Film producer Munirathna has managed to get ticket from Rajarajeshwarinagar Assembly constituency, while vetaran actor Kumar Bangarappa waltzed through for the Sorab seat in Shimoga district. However, he is pitted against his brother and rival party candidate Madhu Bangarappa (JD-S).
The Bharatiya Janata Party appears to be wary of film stars and has not accommodated any yet. The breakaway Karnataka Janata Paksha (KJP) too seems to be cautious. Actor Doddanna wanted to contest from Turvekere (Tumkur district), but the KJP ignored his wish. Actor Shruthi was similarly disregarded. According to a KJP member, the party will not have anything to do with celebrities, as “the party’s real star is B.S. Yeddyurappa”.
The Janata Dal (Secular) is far more sympathetic towards the ambitions of film stars. State president H.D. Kumaraswamy, also a producer, is likely to nominate Rakshita from Rajarajeshwarinagar.
Pooja Gandhi of Mungaru Male fame is contesting from Raichur (BSR Congress). However, Actor Malavika Avinash, who was tipped for the Rajajinagar seat will not contest this time.
Mayur Patel, son of Madan Patel, general secretary of the BSR Congress, is testing his fortunes from Mahadevapura Assembly constituency in Bangalore city.
Some stars are planning to canvass for their colleagues. Members of the Legislative Council Jaggesh and Shruthi and former MLC Srinath will campaign for BJP candidates.
In the Congress, Darshan Toogudeepa, Ramya and Shashikumar, close friends of Mr. Ambareesh, will campaign for him. Actor Bhavana has already hit Bangalore’s streets. Top directors S.V. Rajendra Singh Babu and N.R. Nanjunde Gowda joined the Congress in Mysore on Monday.
Though actors such as B. Jayamma, a silent era actor nominated as MLC in 1981, Mukhyamantri Chandru , Anant Nag and Jaggesh plunged into politics, the legendary Rajkumar refused to enter despite pressure. The Janata Party tried to field him against Indira Gandhi in Chikmagalur in 1978, but he ‘vanished’ until polls were over. Similarly, another veteran, Vishnuvardhan, refused to foray into politics.