Indian political parties have been poaching celebrities, hoping to employ their glamour and popularity to grab votes, for decades. Some outfits, for instance the Communist Party of India and other Left parties, have more or less steered clear of inducting stars into their fold, preferring to have themselves represented by those nurtured in politics, such as student activists. But most national and regional parties, from the Bharatiya Janata Party to the Trinamool Congress, rely heavily on famous people to woo voters. Many of these stars occupy important positions in national or regional politics and are ministers, MLAs and MPs. Yet, in spite of demanding political careers and pressing schedules as office-holders, many continue to pursue their creative professions—from drama and dance to music, literature and films.
“I think if you love doing something, you will find the time to do it, no matter how busy you are,” Babul Supriyo, the singer and actor who joined politics during the 2014 Parliamentary elections on the invitation of the BJP, became a Member of Parliament from Bengal’s Asansol constituency and, subsequently, a central minister, told Outlook. “To me, music is to my life as a charger is to a cell phone...without it, I will soon be drained out of all energy.”