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Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Bhubaneswar, Jul 1: 

Following the embarrassment that ensued after casting couch allegations levelled against actor-turned-BJD politician Papu Pom Pom and his subsequent arrest, Odisha’s ruling Biju Janata Dal today spoke of a course correction and background check before inducting new faces.

anubhav mohanty sidhant mohapatra dillip tirkey naveen Patnaik bjd

“We are going to verify the background in detail before inducting new faces into the party fold. One would only be able to become a member of the party after a thorough review,” said BJD Spokesperson Amar Prasad Satpathy speaking to reporters today.

If Papu Pom Pom was not enough, many of its other leading star politicians including Anubhav Mohanty, Sidhant Mohapatra and Aakash Das Nayak have also brought trouble for the party for their alleged links with chit fund companies.

Interestingly, while reign of movie stars and sports stars are nothing new in politics of other states and at national level, the trend had more or less spared Odisha where there were not many known names in politics barring veteran actor-director Prasanta Nanda, who had been a member of several political outfits.

BJD, however, started the trend of inducting stars and turning them into star campaigners by recruiting almost all top movie actors and few sportspersons into its fold between 2009-14.

Actor Sidhant Mohapatra was brought into party fold and given a party ticket to contest from Berhampur parliamentary constituency in 2009 and again in 2014, and former Indian hockey captain Dilip Tirkey was sent to Rajya Sabha in 2012. Besides, actor Aakash Das Nayak was fielded from Korei and Papu Pom Pom was fielded from Champua Assembly constituency in 2014 elections. Further, Anubhav Mohanty was sent to the Upper House the same year.

Even though actor Mihir Das, Satyaki Mishra and playback singer Trupti Das joined the party in the run up to 2014 polls, there were not given a party ticket to contest polls. On the other hand, another actor of yesteryears — Munna Khan — who had joined the party, was made the Chairman of Odisha Film Development Corporation (OFDC) and a secretary of BJD even though he was not given a party ticket to contest.

Among movie actors in other parties, Bijaya Mohanty and Aparajita Mohanty pledged allegiance to Congress, Sritam Das, Pintu Nanda and Pinky Pradhan joined BJP. Ashrumochan Mohanty and director Sudhakar Basant joined BJP after the 2014 polls.

Even though Congress fielded Bijaya and Aparajita from Bhubaneswar and Cuttack Lok Sabha seats respectively, BJP chose not to field any of its actor members in any seat. All the parties, however, roped them in to encash their popularity to convert into votes.