With likes of Hema Malini and Paresh Rawal already in its ranks, the BJP’s “star power” got a further boost on Tuesday with the joining of actor-politician Jaya Prada just before the Lok Sabha elections.
Hours after the 56-year-old joined the BJP — her fifth party in a two-decade-long political career — she was given a ticket from Rampur, setting up a mouth-watering contest with Samajwadi Party’s Azam Khan, with whom she has a history of conflict.
Jaya Prada, a two-term Lok Sabha MP, described Prime Minister Narendra Modi as a “brave” leader in whose hands the country was “safe”. She further said joining the BJP was a “significant” moment in her life.
The former Samajwadi Party leader, who ruled the Hindi and Telegu film industry in the 1980s, joined politics back in 1994 at the age of 32 after NT Rama Rao, the founder of the Telugu Desam Party, invited her. She climbed up the party ladder very quickly and was nominated to the Rajya Sabha from Andhra Pradesh in 1996.
However, she quit the party after NTR’s son-in-law N Chandrababu Naidu took over the TDP’s mantle, leading to a rift in the party. Under Naidu, the actress was sidelined in the TDP and not allowed to participate in party programmes.
TDP’s loss was Samajwadi Party’s gain and she was welcomed to the party by patriarch Mulayam Singh Yadav. However, it was the same Mulayam Yadav who expelled her from the party along with her close associate Amar Singh for ‘anti-party’ activities in 2010.
In between, she successfully contested Lok Sabha elections from Rampur in 2004 and 2009 on SP ticket — a period during which she forged a friendship with Amar Singh.
After being expelled, Jaya Prada and Amar Singh formed their own party — the Rashtriya Lok Manch — which failed to win any seats in the 2012 Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections. She then joined Rashtriya Lok Dal in March 2014 and unsuccessfully contested the Lok Sabha elections from Bijnor.
Some of her memorable films include Anthuleni Katha (1976), Sargam (1979), Kaamchor (1982), Kaviratna Kalidasa (1983), Sagara Sangamam (1983), Tohfa (1984), Sharaabi (1984), Maqsad (1984), Sanjog (1985), Aakhree Raasta (1986), Simhasanam (1986), Sindoor (1987) , Aaj Ka Arjun (1990).