In Mizoram, an unlikely collection of retired stars, out-of-work musicians, and the most happening artistes of the state are all sheltered under the umbrella of politics whenever election approaches.
Veteran musicians of the state said that stars of today are more politically conscious than previous generations of musicians and hungrier for fame.
They believe that elections are an income-generating political gala, when musicians and politicians have a give-and-take policy.
“Earlier, stars didn’t read anything or show interest in politics. Today, they’re educated and understand politics. And they also know that this is always a good time to win hearts, fans and of course bucks to make wallets fat,” said Vanlalngura, MNF activist and local council member of Tuikual locality in Aizawl.
Before playing a full time role in politics Vanlalngura has made several hits in the Mizo music charts, ageing vocal chords and advent of younger generations of singers have made him pick a different walk of life.
It makes sense then, he says candidly, for parties to approach them because “every star has a following and can bring in crowds.”
In an election bereft of substantive issues rousing the voters or polarising the parties, Mizo stars are expected to draw crowds and generate some excitement; exactly what politicians are looking forward to and the main reason why they relish the singing of the best bands.
“This is reducing politics to a spectacle. Elections in Mizoram were like a plotless, messageless concert in the 1980s and it needs extras to liven up the proceedings,” Ngura said.
In the mid 1990s, the most happening artist was C Dinthanga who fought elections on a Congress ticket but never won. He quit after realizing that “that politics wasn’t about emotion, it was a much bigger game he couldn’t handle.
The present finance minister who is the official candidate of INC from Aizawl East II, Lalsawta once was an ardent fan of music and though he didn’t hold the microphones, but he was on the rhyming side, songs he had composed back in the eighties like Enga’n Ka Lo Tawn Che, Ka Tan I Chuai are still belted out by the present top performers of the state like DJ Lalvenhimi.
That’s possibly why most stars are going to campaign in the elections, but not go as far as standing as candidates. But for chairman of Mizoram Youth Commission chairman and INC candidate for Lunglei East, music is entertainment and a political movement.
He’s a hardcore fan of Bon Jovi and still follows the likes of eighties soft rock music. “I dreamt of a career in teaching at big universities, while I was doing my post graduate degree in Shillong, but it was in a way ‘off beat’ with music in my veins. I started teaching in Lunglei, but then music drove my dreams away but plunged me deep into politics, and here I am,” the incumbent legislator from Lunglei East AC said.
While musicians and artistes have strong conviction that a career in politics is not for them, a political analyst and journalist J Malsawmzuala Vanchhawng believed that they could be the pillars of a successful politician.
“They can motivate people, highlight a cause, and raise funds for a project easily because people love them. They can be of so much good use,” he says.
With elections just around the corner, politicians of repute are queuing up at the doors of singers, engagement pads of top artistes of the state are littered with names of politicians they are being paid to accompany.