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14 May, 2009 06:17

Bollywood stars shining in politics

While the results of India’s parliamentary elections are to be announced on Saturday, the debate over whether Bollywood actors are capable of running the country continues.

Shatrughan Sinha, one of India’s most famous stars from the 70s and 80s, is famous for his macho roles, and is better known as “Shotgun”.

Sinha, who is standing for election, is from the town of Patna in the eastern state of Bihar, which is far removed from glitzy Bollywood. People see him as a son of the soil, and call him “Bihari Babu”, or the “Gentleman of Bihar”.

Sinha is not new to politics. He joined the opposition party BJP more than 20 years ago and was the first ever actor to become a cabinet minister, but this is the first time he is standing for India’s lower House of Parliament.

“My main agenda is development. It is based on Four Ps: P for Peace, P for Prosperity, P for Progress and P for Pride. I’m working on that,” Shatrughan Sinha said, explaining his goals.

Sinha’s main competitor is Shekhar Suman, a famous television star known for his comic roles.

This will be Suman’s debut in politics, and he is representing the ruling Congress party, but he has been criticized for being an outsider. Fame in India brings in the crowds, but that doesn’t always translate into votes.

The public in India may love stars like Shatrughan Sinha, but many still consider actors political lightweights. People in Patna’s streets claim that when it comes to voting, stardom and glamour have no effect on their choice.

“No, that’s not important. We want development. Whether it’s Bollywood or Hollywood means nothing to us. Whoever does good work here, we will vote for him,” said one passer-by.

In the last election in 2004, several actors won, but once elected they spent more time in Bollywood than their constituencies. This time around, parties have been more cautious, only fielding stars who seem truly committed to politics.