Much ahead of the Election Commission of India announcing the date of the Karnataka Legislative Assembly polls, Congress and BJP had started campaigning in the state in full might, with star campaigners flying down several times. The fight is close, for sure -- and fiery too. The campaign is all likely to be glamorous as well, with film celebrities entering the fray in hordes.
The two national parties are leaving no stone unturned to rope in stars from the Sandalwood to woo the voters. Star campaigners like Upendra, Ramya and Jaggesh will definitely be there to spice up the battle for Karnataka. Some other names are also doing the rounds.
Kannada actress Umashree, known for comedy roles, had contested from Terdal assembly constituency on a Congress ticket in 2008. But, she lost the fight to BJP's Siddu Savadi. However, the actress won the next elections in 2013 from the same constituency and was made the minister for women and child development. She also handled other important portfolios. Umashree is likely to contest from Terdal in the upcoming elections.
CP Yogeshwar, who was an actor, took the plunge into politics in the 1990s. In 1999, he contested as an independent candidate and won the election.
He later joined Congress and was elected as the MLA in 2004. He went on to switch parties like BJP (2009-2013), Samajwadi Party (2013-2014), and Congress (2015-2017). He resigned from Congress amid growing differences with the party leadership in 2017. It was rumored that he would contest election from BJP in upcoming Karnataka assembly elections.
Ambareesh had joined Congress in 1998 and was elected from Mandya Lok Sabha constituency for three terms. He was the minister of state for information and broadcasting from 2006 to 2008. He was elected as MLA from the Mandya constituency.
It is rumored that he was not given a ticket to contest the upcoming election from Congress following his rift with actress-turned-politician Ramya. The buzz is that he might leave the party and contest on JD (S) ticket.
Jaggesh became Congress MLA from Turuvekere but resigned to join BJP. Later, he served as MLC and held a cabinet rank as vice-chairman of KSRTC. Currently, he is the special invitee executive committee member of the Karnataka BJP. If we are to go by the reports, his name is doing rounds for Yeshwanthpur constituency.
Actress Ramya aka Divya Spandana had joined Congress in 2012 and became an MP from Mandya constituency by winning the by-election in 2013. She contested the general election from Mandya in 2014 but was defeated by CS Puttaraju by a margin of 5,500 votes. Her name was doing the rounds for Basavanagudi constituency, but she has refuted the rumors saying that she won't contest the elections.
IAS officer-turned-actor K Shivaram joined Congress after retiring as Bengaluru regional commissioner in 2013. He switched to Janata Dal (Secular) and contested in Bijapur Lok Sabha constituency in 2014. After the defeat, he rejoined Congress in 2014 and quit the party in October 2014 to join BJP. He is said to be making efforts to contest on a BJP ticket in Anekal constituency.
Producer Muniratna, who is bankrolling Darshan's Kurukshetra, was a corporator from Yeshwanthpur in 2010 and was elected MLA from the Rajarajeshwari Nagar constituency for the Karnataka Legislative Assembly representing Congress. He is reportedly set to represent the constituency in the coming elections.
Real star Upendra floated his own party -- Karnataka Pragnyavanta Janata Paksha (KPJP) in 2017, but he walked out of the party earlier this month following a difference of opinion within the party. He has announced that he will start another political outfit called Prajakeeya. He is expected to contest the elections, but he has not made any announcement about the constituency.
Upendra's wife Priyanka also held one of the key positions in Karnataka Pragnyavanta Janata Paksha. She also walked out of the party with her husband.
Noted filmmaker and social activist Roopa Iyer had also joined Karnataka Pragnyavanta Janata Paksha and quit the party with Upendra. She has now announced that she has decided to contest as Prajakeeya candidate from Krishnaraja constituency in Mysore.
National Film Award-winning actress Tara had joined the BJP in 2009 and is a nominated member of the Karnataka Legislative Council. It is not clear whether she will contest the elections, but she will be one of BJP's star campaigners.
Pooja Gandhi, who is known for her performance in Mungaru Male, had joined the JD (S) in 2012. She later joined KJP, but contested the 2013 Karnataka Assembly elections from Raichur on a BSR Congress ticket. She had lost. It is not clear whether she will contest election or campaign for any party.
Kishore is known as a baddie for his performances in movies like Ulidavaru Kandante, Akash, Kabali and many other films. He claims himself to be a farmer and works with small farmers and farmer's movement Karnataka Rajya Raitha Sangha. He is likely to be the star campaigner for Prashant Bhushan's Swaraj India party.
Malavika Avinash, who is a lawyer, TV anchor, and actress, had joined BJP and worked as a campaigner for Sushma Swaraj in Bellary in 1999. She is now a permanent invitee of BJP's Mahila Morcha and was appointed one of its co-spokespersons in February 2014. She will be one of the star campaigners of the party.
Actress Shruti had joined BJP in 2008 and she was made the chairperson of the Karnataka Women and Child Development Corporation before being removed in 2009. In 2013, she joined the Karnataka Janata Paksha which eventually merged in 2014 with the BJP. She is said to be one of the star campaigners of the BJP in the coming election.
Mukhyamantri Chandru had joined the Janata Party and won the assembly elections from Gauribidanur in 1985. After switching to BJP, he became a member of the legislative council in 1998 and 2004. He served as the chairperson of the Kannada Development Authority till 2013. He quit BJP to join Congress in 2014. He will be one of the star campaigners of Congress.
Actress Bhavana Ramanna, who is a Bharatanatyam dancer, had worked as a star campaigner for Congress in the 2013 assembly elections and the 2014 general elections. She will continue the campaign for the party in the coming elections.
Actress Rakshita had joined the Badavara Shramikara Raitara (BSR) Congress in 2012 and served as the president of the women's wing till April 2013. She quit the party citing differences with the party members and joined the JD (S). She again had differences with the party over it ignoring her plea for a ticket to contest from Mandya in the 2014 general elections. She quit JD (S) to join BJP in March 2014. She is reportedly set to work as a star campaigner for BJP.