Cong, BJP rope in filmstars for MP bypoll campaign

Opposition Congress is planning to bring in actor and former party MP Govinda and Raj Babbar, ruling BJP intends to call film actress Hema Malini and TV star Smita Irani.

Updated: Feb 04, 2011, 11:31 AM IST

Bhopal: Campaigning for the February 14 by-elections in Kukshi and Sonkatch assembly constituencies of Madhya Pradesh will witness some star power with both the BJP and Congress planning to rope in film and TV personalities to woo voters.

While Opposition Congress is planning to bring in actor and former party MP Govinda and Raj Babbar, ruling BJP intends to call film actress Hema Malini and TV star Smita Irani.

Congress sources said both Govinda and Raj Babbar would hit the campaign trail in Sonkatch, from where its candidate Arjun Varma, nephew of party MP, Sajjan Singh Verma is
contesting.

By-elections in both the constituencies has become a matter of prestige for the BJP as they have traditionally returned Congress nominees in the past.

Even in the 2008 assembly elections, Jamuna Devi of Congress had won from Kukshi while Sajjan Singh Verma was victorious from Sonkatch.

The Kukshi seat became vacant following the death of Jamuna Devi last year while elections in Sonkatch became necessary after Sajjan Singh Verma was elected to the Lok Sabha in 2009.

Apart from film stars both parties are also employing services of senior leaders to boost their prospects in the by elections.

From Congress side, party general secretary Digvijay Singh and Union ministers Kantilal Bhuria, Sachin Pilot and Arun Yadav have already held public meetings.

Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan would be the star campaigner for BJP for whom the Leader of Opposition in Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj and Leader of Opposition
in Rajya Sabha, Arun Jaitley will campaign in the two constituencies.

On the last day of campaigning, Union Minister Jyotiraditya Scindia will address five public meetings at different places in the two constituencies.

Union Minister Kamal Nath is also scheduled to hold a road show in Sonkatch but its date has not been finalised yet.

The two by elections are the first major test for Prabhat Jha after he took over as President of the Madhya Pradesh BJP last year.

PTI