Chennai: Actress-turned-politician Khushbu Sundar joining the BJP at New Delhi on Monday was marked by a buzz in social media with common people in Tamil Nadu reproducing her old tweets and posting videos of her speeches as Congress spokesperson and circulating clips from her old films showing her gyrating to music.
TNCC President K S Alagiri tweeted that her leaving the party was not a loss and that she had been functioning in the Congress without any ideological moorings. But other tweeple were not that kind. One of them said, ‘From tomorrow she will be defending the accused and Yogi rule! What a shame!’
Quoting one of Kushboo’s old tweets, another one said, ‘Such a cheap sewage politics is. These politicians never live to their words or policy.’ Another Twitter user from Kerala said: “Good for Congress but she is insulting Tamil Nadu, bcoz BJP leaders speak against Tamil Nadu and she is joining them’
But for most people in the State the switch over was just another spectacle. In fact, in all these years, perhaps since 1988 when she featured in the Rajinikanth-starrer Dharmathin Thalaivan, she has been hitting the headlines periodically for a variety of reasons.
A popular Tamil daily once carried a lead story of her marriage with actor Prabhu. Of course she confirmed that news in an interview to an English film magazine later on, explaining how that relationship broke.
Another time, when she was in the peak of her acting career, a news report about fans building a temple for her near Tiruchi created a sensation. Reporters in Tiruchi recall the fans themselves removing the ramshackle structure after she landed in another controversy in 2005 by asking girls indulging in pre-marital sex to be careful.
In the same interview she also said that no educated man would expect his future wife to be a ‘virgin,’ which provoked wide protests and debates. She was accused of defaming Tamil womanhood and chastity and 22 complaints were filed against her. The cases dragged on in various courts till 2010.
Then the film actress who had started making appearances on the small screen turned into a politician, again triggering speculations. When she joined the DMK in 2010 with the then party president M Karunanidhi welcoming her, she was seen as a future leader of the party.
But in 2014 she switched over to the Congress with the then president Sonia Gandhi and vice president Rahul Gandhi honouring her with a spokesperson’s post. In fact she held the post till Monday when the party ‘dropped’ her after she resigned from the party with an allegation that the leaders of Congress had ‘no connectivity with the ground reality or public recognition.’
Even a week before that she addressed a meeting organized by the Congress against the Farmers’ Bills and had been tweeting almost till the end she was attacking the BJP. Just four days prior to that she was on CNNNews18 discussing the Hathras rape incident. The day prior to that, she was retweeting Rahul Gandhi’s tweets.
On Sunday night she took a flight to Delhi, saying ‘no comments’ to the media persons who confronted her with the question on the rumours about her joining BJP, and walked straight into the party fold the next afternoon.
But for articulating the party’s view on television debates and also speaking at the functions she attended, she had been of no big use to the Congress, said a party senior. She was not a crowd puller and definitely not a vote-getter, he added.
So what does the BJP expect to gain from her entry? Whatever it is, for Khushboo joining the party could at least put an end to the virulent attacks from the Hindutva brigade that she is used to. In 2007, the Hindu Munnani and the Hindu Makkal Katchi had filed cases against her for ‘disrespecting Hindi Gods’ by sitting cross legged with footwear in front of idols at the film pooja.
In 2012, she was targeted by Hindu Makkal Katchi for wearing a saree with images of Hindu Gods like Ram, Krishna and Hanuman. Now she may be able to canvass for the BJP without such irritants. But will the popularity of the person - with no ideological mooring or principles or political commitment - alone help the party increase its vote count?...