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HindustanTimes Mon,21 Apr 2014

'Stars' favour Congress campaign in state

Shekhar Iyer, Hindustan Times  Bengaluru, May 04, 2013
First Published: 01:29 IST(4/5/2013) | Last Updated: 02:26 IST(4/5/2013)

This time the Congress squarely beat the BJP in the glamour quotient with the help of Kannada actors -- popularly called 'sandalwood stars'.

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These actors did not have to do much talking, they just accompanied Congress candidates on jeeps through various parts of the state.

Unlike Bollywood actors, who come armed with heavy security, sandalwood stars were not bothered about the adoring crowds. Congress' star campaigner Ramya, one of the leading actors of Kannada film industry, did not mind signing autographs and shaking hands with people. Even veteran political leaders such as Siddaramaiah or DK Shivakumar did not hesitate in taking her help. Ramya, who is considered close to many top Congress leaders, is a member of the Karnataka Congress campaign committee.

But, when it comes to actually contesting the polls, there are only two stars in the fray - veteran actress Umashree, 56, of Congress contesting the poll for the second time, and first-time candidate Pooja Gandhi, 29, from BSR Congress. Rakshita, 29, quit the BSR Congress though she was given a ticket.

Pooja, who was born in Punjab, has changed three parties in one year. This time she is contesting from Raichur, managing to speak to her voters in Kannada.

Umashree, who is a former member of the legislative council, has been fielded by the Congress from Terdal in Bagalkot. She had lost the polls in 2008.

Of course, among the veterans are actor Ambareesh, 61, who is once again contesting from Mandaya. Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi campaigned for him.  

This time, the Congress also roped in Telugu actor-turned-politician Chiranjeevi - also a Union minister- to campaign in selected areas. The Congress also brought in Bollywood stars Suneil Shetty and Mahima Chowdhury to step up its campaign in Bellary.

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