Celebrities in Indian Politics

Harasankar Adhikari

Media and advertisement are taking a vital part almost in all spheres of everyday life from city to remote rural areas of India. At present, all political parties of Indian democracy are taking its advantages for the election campaign. Endorsement of celebrities (actors, singers, talk-show hosts, and athletes) in politics is such an advantage to catch young Indian voters' attitudes and voting behaviours. Political endorsement of celebrities is most prevalent and makes strong impressions on voters. According to commercial marketing research it generates different effects. It is very much tactical because of young people's adulation of celebrities makes them an attractive target, young voters' attitudes and preferences regarding political candidates are unstable, increase young voter's engagement in the political process and encouraging young voters to vote.

There is a relational impact between the construal-level theory (CLT) and the consumer psychology. CLT posits that psychological distance systematically affects a person's mental construal of the event, leading to differing information preferences and decision modes. Psychological distance is temporal, social, and hypothetical.

Historically, this endorsement of celebrities had been started during the seventies and at present, it is very much prominent. The political parties select them to ensure seats in respective election (parliamentary/assembly). These celebrities are population for their own creation in their respective fields. They hardly have any contact with the general mass. Even, they have rare knowledge about the acts and functions of the elected representatives in Indian democracy. They are just like puppets.

It has been recorded that majority of them is unsuccessful in their duties as elected representatives in Indian democracy. They are in chronic absenteeism in participation in debates in parliament. They are only silent spectators in the houses. They are usually guest to the people of their constituency for which they are being elected. They hardly have any knowledge about the problems or thrust of their respective constituency. Usually representing political party appoints some care-taker to facilitate some assigned jobs of an elected representative.

Is it not an illusion to the people? The elected representative has been vital so far as people's development and its representation are concerned. When the elected representative would be a celebrity who is busy for his/her own profession, how would he/she present the people's needs and demands?

It is importantly different from any other profession because it is far away from reel life. There is need of close connection and relation with the people.

The political party should be more responsible for selecting the candidate for the contest in any election. History of endorsement of celebrities is not very effective to the people. It might be helpful to gather some seats. But it does not meet the urgent need of the democratic people.

Vol. 51, No. 38, Mar 24 - 30, 2019