Raj Babbar: From Actor, Politician to Uttar Pradesh Congress Chief

Actor-turned-politician Raj Babbar was appointed the Uttar Pradesh Congress Chief on Tuesday.

3 min read
Raj Babbar: From Actor, Politician to Uttar Pradesh Congress Chief

In a big announcement on Tuesday, Congress appointed actor-turned-politician Raj Babbar the state party Chief in poll-bound Uttar Pradesh, amidst speculation about Priyanka Gandhi’s role in the state.

Babbar, 64, was born in Tundla, Uttar Pradesh and is a native of the state – perhaps a factor in his appointment.

He belongs to the sonar caste, according to NDTV, which comes under the Other Backward Caste category. This is a key factor in the state where the Congress hopes to win back its original vote bank of “Muslims, Brahmins and a slice of non-Dalit Other Backward Castes.”

Party sources reportedly say that the Congress is now expected to pick a Brahmin Chief Minister.

Actor-turned-politician Raj Babbar at a Congress rally in April 2014. (Photo Courtesy: Facebook/<a href=";theater">Raj Babbar</a>)
Actor-turned-politician Raj Babbar at a Congress rally in April 2014. (Photo Courtesy: Facebook/Raj Babbar)

Babbar entered politics by joining the Janata Dal in 1989.

He was also a member of the Samajwadi party, but was expelled in 2006 for alleged “indiscipline,”.

Babbar joined the Indian National Congress soon after, and came to the fore in the famous by-elections of 2009 in UP, where he defeated Dimple Yadav, wife of current Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav, and won a Lok Sabha seat.

Prior to Tuesday’s announcement, Babbar was a Rajya Sabha representative for Uttarakhand, where he adopted a village called Lambagar under the Saansad Adarsh Gram Yojana scheme. But the village is fast losing hope, as it still waits for Babbar’s visit, according to the Hindustan Times.

Raj Babbar at a Congress rally. (Photo Courtesy: Facebook/<a href=";theater">Raj Babbar</a>)
Raj Babbar at a Congress rally. (Photo Courtesy: Facebook/Raj Babbar)

In 2014, Babbar lost severely in the Ghaziabad constituency of UP, to former army Chief General VK Singh. Singh’s margin of victory that year was second only to Narendra Modi’s margin in Vadodara, and Babbar along with others lost his security deposit.

He also created controversy by saying it was possible to have a “full meal at Rs 12 in Mumbai” even today, drawing severe criticism from the BJP.

“No, no, not bada paav. So much of rice, daal saambhar and with that some vegetables are also mixed,” he told reporters at an All India Congress Committee briefing.

An alumnus of the National School of Drama, he made his acting debut with Kissa Kursi Ka in 1977. The film – a satirical take on the politics of Indira Gandhi and Sanjay Gandhi – was banned by the government during the Emergency.

He rose to fame as an actor with BR Chopra’s Insaf Ka Tarazu (1980), where he played the role of a businessman, arrested for molesting a woman. Post his success in the film, Babbar frequently starred in BR Chopra’s films, like Nikaah (1982), Mazdoor (1983) and Aaj Ki Aawaz (1984).

A poster of the film <i>Insaf Ka Tarazu</i>. (Photo: Twitter/<a href=";vertical=default&amp;q=Insaaf%20ka%20Tarazu&amp;src=typd">Super234</a>)
A poster of the film Insaf Ka Tarazu. (Photo: Twitter/Super234)

Actress Smita Patil and he tied the knot while he was still married to theatre artist and current wife, Nadira Babbar. This created the much talked about media narrative of the Smita-Raj-Nadira “love triangle.”

Raj Babbar and Smita Patil. (Photo: Twitter/<a href=";src=typd">Shemaroo</a>)
Raj Babbar and Smita Patil. (Photo: Twitter/Shemaroo)

Babbar has a son and a daughter with his wife, Nadira. He also has a son, Prateik, with Patil, the now deceased actress.

Babbar has starred in more than 150 films and 30 plays.

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