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Filmstars pale before BJP leaders

The BJP has roped in a battery of Bollywood stars to campaign for them but has found that its own senior leaders are in greater demand.
PTI | By Shekhar Iyer, New Delhi
PUBLISHED ON APR 13, 2004 02:58 PM IST

The BJP has roped in a battery of Bollywood stars to campaign for them but has found that its own senior leaders are in greater demand.

Almost every BJP candidate for the LS polls wants a rally of Prime Minister A.B. Vajpayee in his area. Deputy PM L.K. Advani is next in demand followed by the party's second-line leaders.

Shatrughan Sinha and Vinod Khanna do have a Bollywood background but they are in great demand because of their long association with the BJP and their ability to articulate the party's position.

What is most surprising is the emergence of Venkaiah Naidu as a star campaigner. Despite his non-Hindi background, the BJP chief has been regaling audiences with his natural flair for alliteration, one-liners, humour and sarcasm.

Sushma Swaraj is considered a great attraction at rallies held in urban and semi-urban areas where women turn up.

While Pramod Mahajan is tied up in UP where he will spend 22 days visiting all the 77 constituencies the BJP is contesting, he will also campaign in his home state Maharashtra. Arun Jaitley is shuttling between Karnataka, MP and Punjab.

Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, known as the BJP's best-known Muslim face, is being dispatched to select pockets in the party's bid to make a dent in the minority vote.

Among filmstars, Hema Malini is the most sought-after campaigner. Newcomers like Smirti Irani are not much in demand.

The BJP is also planning to organise 'musical nites' across the country featuring its new Bollywood entrants.

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