Will Kangana Make A Good Politician?

Entertainers can be good politicians if they treat the citizens as the audience, and treat their job like a live show, and work hard to make sure the audience likes them, asserts Sandeep Goyal.

IMAGE: Kangana Ranaut, seen here with Bharatiya Janata Party President J P Nadda, has been given a BJP ticket from Himachal Pradesh’s Mandi Lok Sabha constituency. Photograph: Kind courtesy Kangana Ranaut/Instagram

Jaya Bachchan, 75, had an attendance of 82 per cent in the Upper House between 2009 and 2024, three percentage points higher than the national average of 79 per cent.

As against a national average of 199.7 for participation in Rajya Sabha debates, the actor has taken part in 292 debates between 2009 and 2024. She asked 451 questions during Question Hour in the course of her four Rajya Sabha terms (she is now into her fifth).

Mrs Bachchan has spoken on a range of issues in Parliament, such as the safety of women and their rights, street children, India’s most polluted cities, politicisation of religion in the country, controversial statements by people in public office, need to criminalise marital rape, suicides and mental health issues, demand to confer the Bharat Ratna on Mirza Ghalib, and the need to eliminate creamy layer consideration in reservation for people of backward classes.

I would certainly give her an easy 7.5 to 8 out of 10 as an MP.


IMAGE: Hema Malini celebrates Holi in her Lok Sabha constituency, Mathura. Photograph: Kind courtesy Hema Malini/Instagram

Hema Malini, 75, an MP since 2014, has also not done too badly.

In the current Lok Sabha (2019 to 2024), the Bharatiya Janata Party MP from Mathura has clocked 50 per cent attendance, has participated in 20 debates, and has asked 105 questions in the House.

A score of 4.5-5/10 would be a fair assessment of The Dream Girl as a parliamentarian.

Ms Malini’s step-son Sunny Deol, the BJP MP from Gurdaspur, meanwhile, clocked a mere 18 per cent attendance in the current Lok Sabha.

Mr Deol has not participated in any Lok Sabha debate so far, and has asked only one question in five years — on illegal sand mining in rivers.

He wouldn’t merit a score higher than 0.5-1 on 10.

And yes, Hema Malini’s husband Dharmendra who served as a Lok Sabha MP from the BJP, representing Bikaner in Rajasthan, from 2004 to 2009, also hardly ever set foot in Parliament during his tenure. A mixed bag there for the Deols.


IMAGE: Smriti Irani with Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla. Photograph: Kind courtesy Smriti Irani/Instagram

The trend of celebrities joining politics in India first began in the 1960s, when thespian Prithviraj Kapoor was nominated to the Rajya Sabha.

Nargis Dutt too was nominated to the Rajya Sabha but died soon thereafter of cancer.

After that, there has been almost an unending queue for political power amongst celebrities — MGR, NTR, Jayalalitha were all successful chief ministers.

Now, Bhagwant Mann, a comedian, actor and singer, is the CM of Punjab.

Superstars Amitabh Bachchan and Rajesh Khanna both served terms as elected MPs but quickly faded away.

Sunil Dutt, Shatrughan Sinha and Vinod Khanna were all in Parliament and served as ministers.

Currently, Smriti Irani is a senior minister in the Modi government.

Cricketers Mohammed Azharuddin, Gautam Gambhir, Navjot Sidhu, Kirti Azad and Chetan Chauhan have all been in Parliament.

Harbhajan Singh too is now in the Rajya Sabha.

Sachin Tendulkar and Rekha have been reluctant politicians, with the Master Blaster having a 7.3 per cent attendance and Rekha just 4.5 per cent during their respective tenures in Parliament.

M F Husain doodled away his entire Rajya Sabha innings without uttering a word, and finally published his black-and-white sketches (many on the Rajya Sabha letterhead) in book form as Sansad Upanishad.

IMAGE: Jaya Prada and Jaya Bachchan wave to the media, as they stand with Hema Malini and Amitabh Bachchan at the opening day of Parliament’s monsoon session in New Delhi, in 2006. Photograph: Kamal Kishore/Reuters

In my opinion, entertainers can be good politicians if they treat the citizens as the audience, and treat their job like a live show, and work hard to make sure the audience likes them.

Celebs most times don’t have any particular political ideology and usually jump into politics just to maintain their fame and a continued place in the sun.

They are attracted to the trappings of power but fail to pique the voters’ interest beyond the initial degree of intrigue.

This is due to their once-in-a-blue-moon appearances in both their constituency and the House they are elected to. Because of their perceived detachment from reality, much of the pre-election attention they receive quickly fades away and the public becomes angry over their indifference and aloofness.

This has happened in the past with Vinod Khanna and has now repeated itself with Sunny Deol, both coincidentally MPs from Gurdaspur.

Not very different from Kirron Kher, an MP from Chandigarh, who is still perceived as an outsider to the city and someone who is more connected to Mumbai than ever to her constituency.

It is actually the natural politicians who are the skilled actors, adept at recreating reality, adjusting and ad-libbing, synthesising scenes, saying the same thing over and over again and making it seem as if they are saying it for the first time. Actors still have a lot of learning to do.

Sandeep Goyal is chairman of Rediffusion.