Come election season, there is a poaching competition on among parties. In Punjab even as the polls are now a year away, election season is here already, and the poaching games are in full swing. Prize catches are celebrities, with singer-actors and comedians being the top of the pile in Punjab. With noted Sufi singer Hans Raj Hans joining the Congress on Saturday, a few days after social comic Gurpreet Ghuggi had joined the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), we take a look at all such celebrities who joined parties and are at different stages of their political careers.
Hans Raj Hans
Known worldwide for his Sufi singing, Hans Raj Hans is a recipient of the civilian honour of Padma Shri. He has been a now hot-now cold a member of the SAD. In the 2009 Lok Sabha polls, he unsuccessfully contested from Jalandhar on the SAD ticket. Later he remained a star campaigner for the party for his singing skills. As recently as 2014, he was serenading people on the campaign of Harsimrat Kaur Badal in Bathinda’s villages. However, feeling sidelined, he had even resigned from the post of SAD vice-president and there were talks of him hopping into a resurgent BJP when the saffron party was reportedly mulling going it alone in Punjab by breaking the alliance with SAD. Setting all the rumours to rest, he joined Congress on Feb 20.
Known for his socially relevant comedy, he was a known name in Punjab for years and also made some dent on the national stand-up comedy scene by appearing on some TV shows that had restarted the stand-up scene in India some years ago. Ghuggi is 44 years old, which is relatively young by Indian political standards and belongs to Gurdaspur in Majha region of Punjab. In fact, his Majhaili manner of speaking Punjabi is one of his key comedy clicks. It is not yet clear if he would be given the ticket or not, though the AAP is looking hard for candidates for the 117 seats in Punjab.
He is the top guy among artistes-cum-politicians as of today in Punjab. Aged 42, he is not only a satirist who has been counted among the most popular in India but also the AAP MP from Sangrur. In 2011, he had first forayed into politics by joining the People’s Party of Punjab under the leadership of Manpreet Badal. He unsuccessfully contested the 2012 assembly election from Lehragaga. He left the PPP in March 2014 and joined the AAP to contest from Sangrur where he won by around 2 lakh votes, setting a new record in Punjab defeating Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa, a top leader of the SAD who is now a member of Rajya Sabha. His previous party of choice, the PPP, now stands merged with the Congress.
Now in the Congress, his singing and acting career has hit a plateau, if not dipped, in the past few years. His political career too did not really work out to a script. Due to his proximity with comedian-turned-politician Bhagwant Mann, he had been given the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) ticket to fight the Talwandi Sabo bypoll in 2014. Initially he was seen as a solid pick due to him being a celebrity, that too from the Bathinda district in which the constituency falls. However, later some allegations of human trafficking were levelled against him that led to a turn of the tide against him even before his boat could set sail. As social media anger rose, several people started posting his older songs allegedly glorifying guns and alcohol also on websites such as Facebook and Twitter. His AAP ticket was taken back and he contested as an Independent, finishing a poor fourth. His songs include ‘Daaru’ and ‘Revolver’.
A singer and a controversial figure for some cases of human trafficking against him, Makhan usually resides in Canada but belongs to Shankar village in Nakodar near Jalandhar. His albums include Glassi, Billo, Good Luck Charm and James Bond. Makhan joined the Bahujan Samaj Party in February 2014 ahead of the Lok Sabha polls and even fought the election from Anandpur Sahib. He finished fourth with a rather impressive tally of 69,124 votes, primarily due to the Dalit vote bank of the BSP.
Yes, he too remained a politician apparently. Or maybe still is. Known as the King of Bhangra who rose to international fame, he joined the Congress in 2013. It remains unclear how active he is on the scene now.
Miss Pooja (Gurinder Kaur Kainth)
A phenomenon of sorts, she is knwon to have revived the tradition of Punjabi duets sung in the ‘akhara’ style. Panned much on social media, she is a Dalit who has sung songs for some movements as well. She joined the Bharatiya Janata Party in December 2013. However, she has later backed out. Her singing career and political career both seems to be headed in unknown directions as of now.
A mercurial figure, Jasraj Singh Longia started his career as Karan Jasbir and hit the charts with the wedding song ‘Dhai Lakh Di’. Many years later, with his hair grown and turban on, he was Jasbir Jassi and turned up in a movie called Bikkar Bai Senti Mental’, carrying a wooden log (the stump of a cot or charpoy) as his weapon of choice. Reportedly inspired by Arvind Kejriwal, he joined the AAP in January 2014. He even contested the Bathinda seat and finished a credible third against SAD’ Harsimrat Kaur Badal and Congress’ Manpreet Badal. Even now, he is known for his temper-laden videos criticising his own party leadership sometimes, and sometimes making fiery speeches against other parties while sharing the stage with the same leadership. He still carries that log/stump around for effect. Quite a character, as they say!
A legend of Punjabi singing, Sadiq, 74, also remained an actor and is now MLA of the Congress from Bhadaur. He also made news for being Muslim and yet contesting and winning from a Scheduled Caste reserved seat. While the Punjab and Haryana High Court quashed his election, the Supreme Court, on his appeal, has stayed the HC order.
An actor and reality show judge, she is the BJP MP from Chandigarh. She and husband Anupam Kher are among the most vocal admirers of PM Narendra Modi. She won the seat with 1.9 lakh votes, defeating sitting MP, Congress leader Pawan Bansal, who received got 1.2 lakh. Her debut was a Punjabi movie called ‘Aasra Pyar Da’ in 1983.
An actress model, and former beauty queen who competed in the Miss Universe pageant, she was the Aam Aadmi Party candidate from Chandigarh for 2014 Lok sabha elections and finished third with 1.08 lakh votes, while Kirron Kher won with 1.91 lakh.
Born in a Punjabi family in Peshwar in pre-Partition India, he is sitting BJP MP from Gurdaspur in Punjab. He remained MP from the seat in the past too.