Just vote, Bollywood stars ask fans in Indian poll

Thu May 7, 2009 2:17am EDT
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By Shilpa Jamkhandikar

MUMBAI (Reuters Life!) - Just like in Hollywood, its hard to keep the politics out of Bollywood, but at this year's Indian election, the stars are just appealing to voters to go to the polls, spurred, in part, by the militant attacks on Mumbai.

Several members of India's prolific, and influential, film and TV industry have helped inject glamour into the month-long general election whose results will be out on May 16.

But instead of campaigning or contesting, many superstars such as Aamir Khan and Aamir Khan feature in public service adverts urging people to shrug off apathy and cast their votes.

"We are not endorsing any political party; we are only asking voters to make an informed choice," Khan recently said at the launch of an information campaign on the elections.

"If as a celebrity, I can help spread awareness about this, I consider that a worthy cause."

What has prompted these appeals for vote is a growing apathy among urban, educated youth toward politics which they see as corrupt and inefficient, analysts said. This has been reflected in low voter turnout in cities.

"There is by and large a feeling of cynicism about political processes, politicians and democratic institutions among younger people," said Anjali Monteiro, a professor at the Center for Media and Social Studies in Mumbai.

Many like the actor Khan say they have been moved to do something to choose better political leaders after last November's attacks in Mumbai in which 166 people were killed and which exposed security inadequacies and mis-governance.   Continued...

<p>Voters line up to cast their votes at a polling booth in Nandigram, about 150 km (93 miles) southwest of Kolkata, May 7, 2009. Millions of Indians began voting in the fourth round of a general election on Thursday, including the possible swing state of West Bengal where the ruling Congress-led alliance hopes to win crucial seats. REUTERS/Jayanta Shaw</p>