When stars get starstruck by politics

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Shakib Al Hasan tops the list of celebrities who have confirmed the appointment of the ruling Awami League. Many other famous names were denied the party ticket. What triggers this phenomenon? We ask celebrities and experts

November 28, 2023, 09:00 am

Last Updated: Nov 28, 2023, 08:56 am

Example: TBS

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Example: TBS

Whether it is the most popular public figure in Bangladesh or the most criticized, Shakib Al Hasan’s name has managed to stay on top.

Following his nomination to contest the Maghura-1 seat in the 12th National Parliamentary Elections on an Awami League ticket, the Bangladesh cricket team captain was once again the focal point of the conversation by painting a picture of Shakib Al Hasan in Mujib’s coat. Lots of reactions on social media.

Some pointed to the decade-old post in which Shakib had openly stated his refusal to enter politics, while others drew parallels with another player, Meshafe bin Mortaza. This kind of online banter, though not insignificant, is the question that has led many Bangladeshi celebrities to enter politics.

This trend of entertainment and sports stars joining politics is a global phenomenon, although it is widespread in South Asia. Many stars have aligned themselves with one major political party or another, some of them eventually reaching very high positions in public office. Some political parties give wings to collaborate and capitalize on the popularity of these figures.

To be honest, I had no political background. I have been playing cricket all my life. From there, coming to politics was not an easy path for me. I can see that I have learned a lot over the past few years. The field of politics is vast, there is much to learn.

as if Masarafe bin Mortaza

For example, ‘Bangabandhu Sangskritik Jote’ is a subsidiary organization of Awami League. Stars who support the idea of ​​Awami politics in the entertainment industry actively collaborate under this banner. Similarly, the cultural wing of Bangladesh National Party (BNP) known as ‘Jatitabadi Samajik Sangkritik Sangsta (JASAS)’ attracts stars inspired by BNP’s political ideology.

While many celebrities openly declare their allegiance to various political parties, not all such involvements translate into organizational activities. As the national parliamentary elections approach, the political orientation of the stars becomes more pronounced. Apart from participating in organizational work and party programs, many express their ambition to contest elections and win parliamentary seats.

The late actress Sara Begum Kabori, who was elected as a Bangladesh Awami League representative from the Narayanganj seat, and the actor Akbar Hossan Pathan Farooq, who entered Parliament after winning the Dhaka constituency, exemplify this trend. Popular cultural figure Asaduzzaman Noor has served as a minister since 2001 representing Nilphamari as an Awami League candidate and continues his political connections as a candidate for the upcoming national elections.

Renowned music artiste Momtaz Begum has been elected as a Member of Parliament by the Awami League in the first women’s seat. Since 2014, she has served as Member of Parliament elected from Manikganj-2 constituency. Mr. Momtaz once again confirmed the party’s candidacy from the same constituency.

Popular actor Ferdus Ahmed has been associated with Bangladesh Awami League politics for a long time. His active participation in party events is constantly highlighted. Accepting the party’s nomination from Dhaka-10, Ferdhus described his involvement in politics as something different from his role in entertainment.

“My film acting is for the people, in the same way my politics is for the people. I aim to serve them by fulfilling the responsibility given to me by the leader just as I have entertained them in films.”

Bangladesh Awami League Central Sub-Committee on Culture and singer and actor SD Rubel has been rejected as party candidate from Dhaka-8 constituency. Despite this setback, Rubel remains steadfast in his commitment to party and public service. “I do not work in politics for my personal gain; I work for the public. I still work. My contribution to society through music will continue. I will continue to be associated with party functions,” he assured.

Actress Mahya Mahi has shown ambition in politics following her second marriage to Gazipur politician Rakib Sarkar. Although she was not elected from Chapainawabganj-2, Mahi said this setback does not dampen her commitment to politics. “I joined politics to work for the people. I will continue to work for the interest of the party not only in Chapainawabganj or Gazipur but across the country.”

Actor Shakeel Khan applied to contest from Bagerhat-3 but failed to get the party’s recognition. Also, actors Masum Parvez Rubel from Barisal-3, Rokeya Prachi and Shomi Qaiser from Feni-3, actress Shamsun Nahar Shimla from Jenaidah-1 and actor Siddiqur Rahman from Dhaka-17 and Tangail-1 collected nomination papers but were ultimately rejected. The nomination of the party.

On the flip side, stars aligned with the Bangladesh National Party (BNP) and those who share their ideology are quietly preparing to contest the national parliamentary elections if the opportunity arises. Uncertainty over BNP’s participation in the polls has led to a lot of outcry from stars in this camp, including singer Baby Nazne, Kanak Chapa and footballer Aminul Haque.

The intertwining of sports and politics is even more evident with the likes of former cricket captain Naimur Rahman Durjoy, Mashaf Mortaza and former Bangladesh national football team captain Arif Khan Joy making their mark in the National Assembly.

Apart from Joy, the remaining two are again in the running. Shakib Al Hasan’s direct involvement in politics this year is a big surprise. Currently, the ace all-rounder is busy with election-related activities.

Masarafe Bin Mortaza is again contesting from Narail-2 from Awami League. When Mr. Meshrafe reflected on his political journey, he said, “I believe that everyone who enters politics has one purpose – to serve the people.” As an elected representative, he gets an opportunity to intimately understand and resolve the issues and problems faced by the people. Environment: I entered politics because of my desire to stand by my people and solve their problems.

He had no previous experience in politics. How much experience does he have after five years of service? “To be honest, I had no background in politics. I have been playing cricket all my life, then coming to politics was not an easy path for me. I have learned and seen a lot in the last few years. The field of politics is vast and I have to learn a lot.

Another celebrity, football player and business leader Abdul Salam Murshedi contested from Khulna-4 constituency. Explaining his entry into politics, Murshedi highlighted his dual identity as a sportsman and a prominent businessman.

“Apart from being a sports person, I am a famous businessman, I have been involved in the organization for 20 years by leading BGMEA. When I was the president of BGMEA, the Awami League government was in 2009. At that time, there was a recession. I was regularly discussing with the government and I met the then Finance Minister Abul Mal Abdul Muhit and I spoke to the Honorable Prime Minister on some matters of policy support.

Perhaps, because of my organizational skills, I caught the leader’s eye. Once the Honorable Prime Minister took me on a political visit to Khulna by helicopter and gave me a platform to give a speech.

Reflecting on his political journey, Murshedi emphasized the continuous learning process in politics. “Politics is like a football field, sometimes dry and sometimes slippery. It is a continuous learning experience and a test of patience. Politics may seem challenging but ultimately it is a service. Despite the criticisms associated with the region, I am happy to serve.”

Political scientists, however, see in this trend a weakness of society where famous people enter politics en masse.

Abdul Laf Masum, a political scientist and professor in the Department of Government and Politics at Jahangirnagar University, said, “Such situations emerge when there is no real political participation or a healthy political culture in a country.”

“Political parties suffer from the poverty of political culture and do not have reliable political figures, forcing them to decorate their teams with celebrities such as movies or sports,” he said.

“On the other hand, famous people use emptiness when they realize that power is more important than anything else. Therefore, despite their wealth and popularity, they willingly sacrifice some of it in order to gain political influence,” he said.

Miraz Hossain contributed to this report.





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