Bollywood stars shun the ballot box

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The Independent Online

They were the Bollywood A-listers who told the youth of India that there was nothing more important than getting to the polling booths and casting their vote.

But when it came to actually voting themselves – enduring the scorching April weather and marking a cross on the ballot papers – the actresses suddenly found themselves with better things to do.

Kareena Kapoor, Deepika Padukone, Priyanka Chopra and Asin, four of India’s leading actresses who participated in a video campaign championing the cause of democracy in the run-up to the election, had all failed to vote themselves yesterday, it was revealed.

The Mail Today newspaper revealed that Ms Kapoor was in New York finishing up a forthcoming movie, Ms Chopra was busy preparing for a party at her Mumbai home, southern starlet Asin could not get back to Kerala because her father was ill and Ms Padukone was unable to travel to Bangalore where she is registered to vote.

“Kareena could not vote because she is not in India. How could she fly back for the polls?” her spokesman said.

The actions of the four actresses, who all have homes in Mumbai, highlight a surprising failure of that city’s residents to get out and vote during the third phase of India’s five-stage election. In the aftermath of the Mumbai attacks in November that left more than 160 people dead, there were countless vigils and campaigns demanding greater accountability from politicians.

As it was, turnout in Mumbai last week totaled 44.15 per cent, down from 47.15 per cent in 2004. One Indian newspaper said that after all the demonstrations and campaigns following last year’s terror attacks, “Mumbaiites showed their disdain for the spirit of democracy”.