Mumbai: A bevy of Bollywood celebrities, singers and comedians were caught in a sting operation agreeing to promote political parties in the run up to the 2019 general elections through their social media accounts in exchange for crores of rupees.
The operation carried out by Cobrapost revealed the 36 stars, whose followers go into lakhs in Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, striking deals with Cobrapost reporters to write favourable messages in their social media accounts to influence the electorates.
“These celebrities did not blink an eye before saying “Aye” to the proposition, asking for a fee which ranged from Rs. 2 lakh to Rs. 50 lakh per message. Some even quoted a fee of Rs. 20 crore for an eight-month contract, and almost none of them said no to black money when we told them a bulk of their fee would be paid in cash,” Cobrapost said in a release.
#OperationKaraoke: For Amisha Patel, Money is the Top Priority even before she makes some general tweets “Samajho aap 28 ko aa rahe ho, transaction ho jaata hai 28 kee sham ko main kar doongi…” #BikaooBollywood pic.twitter.com/8n0b3IrH04
— Cobrapost (@cobrapost) February 19, 2019
Jackie Shroff, Shakti Kapoor, Vivek Oberoi, Sonu Sood, Amisha Patel, Mahima Chaudhry, Shreyas Talpade, Puneet Issar, Surendra Pal, Pankaj Dheer and his son Nikitin Dheer, Tisca Chopra, Deepshikha Nagpal, Akhilendra Mishra, Rohit Roy, Rahul Bhat, Salim Zaidi, Rakhi Sawant, Aman Verma, Hiten Tejwani and spouse Gauri Pradhan, Evelyn Sharma, Minissha Lamba, Koena Mitra, Poonam Pandey, Sunny Leonne.
Playback Singers: Abhijeet Bhattacharya, Kailash Kher, Mika Singh and Baba Sehgal.
Comedians: Raju Srivastava, Sunil Pal, Rajpal Yadav, Upasana Singh, Krushna Abhishek and Vijay Ishwarlal Pawar.
Choreographer Ganesh Acharya
Dancer Sambhavana Seth.
There were some notable exceptions who did not fall pray to the lure of money. They were actors Vidya Balan, Arshad Warsi, Raza Murad and Saumya Tandon.
Representing a fictitious PR agency and taking on aliases, Cobrapost reporters approached these celebrities with a simple question: Would you be willing to promote a political party discreetly on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram? Almost all of the above celebs concurred to do it for a fee, the news portal said in a release.
The party in question was, in most of the cases, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) and the Congress Party in some cases.
Although almost out of job in Bollywood, Mahima Chaudhary, for instance, demanded Rs. 1 crore for a single message.
“BJP toh kuchh bhi de sakti hai. They can give one crore a month (The BJP can give you anything. They can give 1 crore a month),” she said. Sonu Sood, on the other hand, quoted a price of Rs. 20 crore to undertake the assignment. Not satisfied with the fee we would put on his table, Sood demanded Rs. 2.50 crore a month.
Sunny Leonne, the new sex siren on the Bollywood landscape would support the BJP wholeheartedly provided her husband is given citizen status. This is what she says:
“Modi Sir ne Daniel ko overseas citizen banaya toh hum zaroor support karenge (We will definitely support provided Modi Sir [the BJP government] grant Daniel overseas citizen status).