Lok Sabha Elections 2024: Who are star campaigners? What is their significance in poll outcomes?

  • Lok Sabha Elections 2024: A star campaigner is a famous person with a huge fan following chosen by a political party to contest or campaign during elections. The star campaigner can be anyone - a political heavyweight, a film star, a well-known celebrity, or even a sportsperson.

Gulam Jeelani
Updated2 Apr 2024, 11:42 AM IST
Lok Sabha Elections 2024:  Prime Minister Narendra Modi is the BJP’s biggest crowd puller.
Lok Sabha Elections 2024: Prime Minister Narendra Modi is the BJP’s biggest crowd puller.(PTI)

The poll fever is catching up, with the first phase of Lok Sabha elections 2024 less than three weeks away.

Apart from the usual lists of candidates, political parties have started releasing the names of ‘star campaigners,’ who may tilt the balance in their favour.

The two principal contenders, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Congress have announced their star campaigners for Lok Sabha polls in some states.

So, who are these star campaigners, and what is their significance?

Follow all Live Updates on Lok Sabha Election 2024 Here

A star campaigner is a famous person with a huge fan following chosen by a political party to contest or campaign during elections. This can be anyone. A political heavyweight, a movie star, a well-known celebrity, or even a sportsperson.

PM Modi Biggest Crowd Puller

The star campaigners are picked based on their popularity. The list has to be sent to the Election Commission of India. There is no specific definition of a star campaigner in the law. And electoral laws do not stipulate who can or cannot be made a star campaigner.

Not surprisingly, the ruling BJP has the biggest star power in its list. Prime Minister Narendra Modi is the BJP’s biggest crowd puller. The BJP's other star campaigners include Union Home Minister Amit Shah and Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanth. Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma, and Tamil Nadu BJP President K Annamalai are also in the list.

In fact, the BJP has named four incumbent members of parliament (MPs) - including controversial lawmaker Anant Kumar Hegde - who have been denied tickets by the party as its ‘star campaigners’ for Karnataka in the Lok Sabha elections.

The Gandhis

The principal Opposition party, Congress, which is hoping to turn the tables on the ruling BJP, has included former party presidents Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi, party president Mallikarjun Kharge and party general secretary Priyanka Gandhi in its list of ‘star campaigners.’

Three Congress chief ministers- Siddaramaiah of Karnataka, Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu of Himachal Pradesh, and Revanth Reddy of Telangana, have been named star campaigners of the Congress in Uttar Pradesh.

For the Trinamool Congress, the star campaigners include cricketer-turned-candidate Yusuf Pathan and actors-turned-candidates Sayooni Ghosh and Rachana Banerjee, along with Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee.

Star Power

And, when the stakes are so high, why would the movie stars stay behind? Often, an actor, who is not necessarily a candidate, campaigns for a party or a candidate. Vivek Oberoi has done it in the past, and so has Sudeep Sanjeev and Darshan. In the upcoming polls, actors-turned-candidates Kangana Ranaut and Arun Govil will be campaigning for themselves, and for other BJP contestants, too.

A recognised national or state party can nominate a maximum of 40 star campaigners. But an unrecognised political party can nominate only a maximum of 20 star campaigners.

Also Read: Lok Sabha Elections 2024: Jawaharlal Nehru made ‘two blunders’ in J&K, says Amit Shah

But why the need for star campaigners? First, the celebrity quotient that the star campaigner brings to the table. For example, Prime Minister Narendra Modi is contesting from Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh. But since he is BJP’s biggest leader, he travels across the country to drum up support for the party.

Similarly, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath is not a Lok Sabha candidate. But he is considered the biggest crowd puller in the BJP after PM Modi, and hence campaigns in many states apart from UP for the BJP.

The Cost of Campaigners

Second, the star campaigners have to do with election expenses, too. 

The Election Commission has fixed 95 lakh expenses limit for candidates of bigger Lok Sabha constituencies and up to 75 lakh for candidates of smaller constituencies.

Political parties cover all costs of star campaigners under the Representation of Peoples Act. But the star campaigner’s expenses are not deducted from the candidate’s expenditure. Thus it allows the candidates extra spending opportunity beyond the poll panel’s 75 - 95 Lakh limit for Lok Sabha polls.

But there is a catch. The star campaigner has to limit it to general campaigning for the party and avoid referring to the candidate. In case, the star campaigner shares the stage with the candidate or even takes the name of the candidate in his speech, his/her charges will have to borne by the candidate from his expenses.

When a Prime Minister or a former Prime Minister is a star campaigner, the expenditure on security including on bullet-proof vehicles will be borne by the government. But if the Prime Minister is accompanied by another star campaigner, the candidate has to bear 50 per cent of expenditure on the security arrangements

Competition

At times, some parties struggle to get the best star campaigners. Last week, for example, the Sharad Pawar faction of Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) filed a complaint with the Election Commission against the ruling BJP and Shiv Sena for violating the Representation of the People Act and Model Code of Conduct (MCC) by publishing the names of leaders from other parties as their star campaigners.

Also Read: FM Nirmala Sitharaman has no money to contest Lok Sabha polls: Here's how much it costs to fight elections in India

The poll panel has the power to revoke the status of ‘star campaigner’ to a leader in case of violation of rules. In 2020 assembly by-polls in Madhya Pradesh, the poll panel had revoked the ‘star campaigner’ status of Congress leader Kamal Nath for violation of Model Code of Conduct. The revocation was, however, stayed by the Supreme Court of India.

The parties will be announcing more star campaigners to add extra zing to the already charged up election season as we move closer to poll dates. The seven phase Lok Sabha Election 2024 begins on April 19. The results will be declared on June 4.

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First Published:2 Apr 2024, 11:42 AM IST
HomePoliticsNewsLok Sabha Elections 2024: Who are star campaigners? What is their significance in poll outcomes?

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