Bollywood actor Manoj Bajpayee is likely to contest the forthcoming Lok Sabha election on a Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) ticket from the Valimiki Nagar seat in Bihar. The actor, who has made a name for himself due to the versatile nature of roles he has played in his movies, is on a tour of Bihar to promote his new movie, “Sirf ek bandaa kaafi hai” (Only one person is enough), in which he plays the role of a lawyer who takes on a powerful self-styled godman.
Bajpayee, who hails from Belwa village, Bettiah in West Champaran district, had met RJD chief Lalu Prasad Yadav and his son Tejaswhi Yadav in September last year at their residence in Patna. The 54-year-old Bajpayee has a massive following across India, especially Bihar, for his down-to-earth image and on screen performances in which he has portrayed the daily struggle faced by a common man. The Ramjas college graduate has been active in Bollywood since 1993 and had an inter-religious marriage in 2006 with Shabana Raza, who has also acted in movies. He became a household name for his act of a fictional Mumbai underworld don named Bhiuku Matare in the 1998 movie Satya.
The Valmiki Nagar seat comprises six Assembly seats, all of which fall under West Champaran district. The seat is currently held by Sunil Kumar of Janata Dal (United), who won the seat in the November 2020 bypolls, which was necessitated due to the death of his father and sitting MP, Baidynath Prasad Mahto. The Sunday Guardian reached out to Bajpayee and his close associate for a response on the developments, but none was received till the time the story went to press. In a media interview earlier this week, he had denied speculation of him joining politics. The Valmiki Nagar seat has around 20% Muslim voters, eight percent Baniya, eight percent Yadav, nine percent Mahto (Kushwaha) and about 15% voters from the backward community. Out of the six Assembly seats that constitute this Lok Sabha seat, four have BJP MLAs. In the past, many individuals from the Bollywood have contested the elections from various seats in Bihar. The list includes Shatrughan Sinha, his son Luv Sinha, Shekhar Suman and well known director Prakash Jha who contested three Lok Sabha elections (2004, 2009 and 2014) from Bettiah seat, albeit unsuccessfully.
Many Bhojpuri actors like Vinay Bihari (who is a three-time MLA from Lauriya (which falls under the Valmiki Nagar Lok Sabha seat) and Kunal Singh (who unsuccessfully contested from Patna Saheb LS seat in 2014 on a Congress ticket), too, have dabbled in politics in the past.