Popular actor-turned politician Khushbu Sundar is likely to join the BJP today, in a big catch for the ruling party in Tamil Nadu ahead of polls next year. She has been with the Congress close to six years since 2014. While she had recently denied such reports, she chose a "no comment" response on Sunday as she took off to Delhi. To a specific question if she's still in the Congress, Ms Sundar said, "I don't wish to say anything". With the Congress out of power since 2014, her political career graph was appearing somewhat stunted of late.
The BJP may also rope her in for the 2021 assembly elections to break new ground in Tamil Nadu, a state that has been elusive for the party. "Khushbu will change the perception of the BJP in Tamil Nadu," said sources in the BJP's Tamil Nadu unit.
The popular star has hopped parties in the past. She had joined the DMK in 2010 when DMK was in power, particularly after she took up the role of late rationalist leader Periyar's wife Maniammai in a biographical film largely funded by the Tamil Nadu government. At that time, she had said, "I think I made the right decision. I love to serve people. I want to work for the betterment of women."
However, four years later, when she left the Dravidian party, she had said, "Hard work for the DMK had been a one-way path." The same year in 2014 she joined the Congress after meeting Sonia Gandhi. The actor had then said, "I finally feel I am home. Congress is the only party that could do good for the people of India and unite the country." But Ms Sundar was not given a ticket for the 2019 Lok Sabha polls which the DMK-Congress alliance swept in the state, nor was she chosen for the upper house.
Such was the popularity she enjoyed, that when she was a star, fans had even built a temple in her honour. But she faced bitter criticism and protests for her comments on chastity. With state elections eight months away in Tamil Nadu, the BJP with its limited reach in the state could see Ms Sundar's star power as quite a catch. The party doesn't have any charismatic leader in the state yet.
This also comes at a time the ruling AIADMK is uncomfortable about continuing its alliance with the BJP following its collapse in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls and speculation that the national party could tacitly back superstar Rajinikanth who is likely to launch his party ahead of the polls.