In these general elections, there will be 40 million first-time voters — a generation growing up on a heavy dose of TV. What better way for politicians to catch their attention than to jump onto the reality show bandwagon?
Congressman Sanjay Nirupam joined Bigg Boss to let people know “what kind of a person he is”. For Nirupam, who is seeking a Congress ticket from Mumbai, the show was the best opportunity “to relate with young voters”. Wannabe politician Rahul Mahajan, too, thought of the show as the perfect publicity platform.
Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee appeared on the sets of Sa Re Ga Ma Pa and sung the patriotic Ae Mere Watan Ke Logon, while the BJP’s Sushma Swaraj declared her support for Sa Re Ga Ma Pa 2009 contestant Yashita Sharma.
“These are new ways of reaching out to the people, especially the youth,” said Mumbai-based political analyst B Venkatesh Kumar.
Gorkha Janamukti Morcha leader Bimal Gurung campaigned for Darjeeling boy Prashant Tamang for the 2007 edition of Indian Idol, using that as a platform to take on ruling politician Subhash Ghising.
In Mumbai, supporting local contestants is in line with the sons-of-the-soil agenda of the Shiv Sena and the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena. The latter supported Vaishali Made, who won Sa Re Ga Ma Pa this year. Sena executive president Uddhav Thackeray called the winners of Little Champs, a competition for child singers, “gems of Maharashtra”. Not one to lag behind, the Congress-led state government announced a prize of Rs 2 lakh for the winners.
Image consultants said several politicians are seeking their advice on how they can use reality shows to enhance their images. “Yes, we have [helped politicians on this count],” said image consultant Dilip Cherian.