NEW DELHI: Call it a lateral entry into politics or a surgical strike against tried and tested faces, the Bharatiya Janata Party is planning to field as many as 70 professionals and eminent persons from the world of films, sports, art and culture for the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.
To begin with, the party is looking at fielding film stars Akshay Kumar, Sunny Deol, Mohan Lal, Madhuri Dixit and cricketer Virender Sehwag, a senior BJP functionary said. All of them are household names who have performed with distinction in their fields.
“The BJP is taking a close look at a large number of professionals from the fields of film, art and culture, sports, media, health and other sectors. There is a large pool of talent in these fields who have earned goodwill among the people due to their work. Such professionals can provide depth, expertise and a different perspective in politics,” the BJP leader said.
“We are examining the possibility of fielding Akshay Kumar from the New Delhi Lok Sabha constituency. Sunny Deol is also among the probables for the Gurdaspur Lok Sabha seats, which the BJP ceded to the Congress in the bypoll after the demise of Vinod Khanna. Madhuri Dixit and Mohan Lal are also on the radar to contest from Mumbai and Thiruvananthapuram Lok Sabha constituencies respectively,” he added.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, BJP sources said, has been keen to rope in a large number of professionals in electoral politics. This is in line with his direction to the party to bring in people with a proven track record in public service.
Modi had last year also asked party MPs to enlist five professionals as members in each of the parliamentary constituency.
With the entry of professionals, the axe may fall on many sitting MPs against whom the party feels there is anti-incumbency. “The ground assessments indicate that there exists anti-incumbency against a large number of sitting MPs of the party. The BJP will have to find replacements for them,” the BJP leader said.
“With their image and popularity the professionals could pull in new votes while keeping a check on bickering among political workers,” he added.
Political parties, including the BJP, have so far given electoral space to film personalities only. It was only in the 2014 elections that the Trinamool Congress and the BJP fielded a few health professionals.