What do stars like Rekha, Jaya Bachchan, Jaya Prada and Hema Malini actually do in the Rajya Sabha?

The Upper House of Parliament has played host to several B-town ladies already and will include many more in the near future. For quite some time now, we have been wondering what these heroines do when the session is in progress

The list of retired or semi-retired heroines in the Rajya Sabha is ever increasing. Jaya Prada, whose political career has been constantly derailing, became a member of the Upper House of Parliament way back in 1996. She didn’t have much starry company then. But soon she was joined by Shabana Azmi, following the Arth actor’s much-publicised social activism, in 1997.

Jaya Bachchan was nominated to the Upper House as a member of the Samajwadi Party, a few years ago. She had joined the political party at the behest of family friend Amar Singh, who was the general secretary at the time. But even after the resignation of Amar Singh, Amitabh Bachchan’s wife continued her term in the house. That obviously means that the lady enjoys politics a lot more than her hubby Amitabh Bachchan did during his short stint as a Congress MP from Allahabad, his home city. Most recently, Jaya Prada was expelled from Samajwadi Party because of her statements supporting Amar Singh, but interestingly, Mrs B, who had been equally close to Singh, wasn’t touched. Hema Malini too has been in the RS for quite some time now, adding starry value to the proceedings.

But the latest addition to the RS has been the most surprising so far. Nobody expected the reclusive Rekha to be interested in politics or even activism, for that matter. The only time we saw the actor was either when she acted in Rakesh Roshan’s movies or gave away awards.

The Rekha-Jaya Bachchan saga, which has re-captured public eyeballs right now, has been going on for over 30 years. We are sure that this open discussion in the media and in public is getting to Jaya. But Rekha, who has never shied away from her link-up to Big B – even though she will not directly speak of it or him – or her discomfort with Jaya, doesn’t seem to mind the attention she’s getting, especially since her filmi career is as good as non-existent. We are sure that all eyes will be on the two actors when they step into the parliament hall for the first time. Wherever B-town goes, everything becomes quite filmi.

Another actor and Congress MP Raj Babbar recently said that people should not expect any clashes between the two yesteryear actors because they have completely different roles to play. Unlike Mrs B, Rekha has been nominated by the President and so will not be involved in any party-related agendas or policies. She has been selected to represent the film fraternity as a whole.

We know that Mrs Bachchan has the reputation of being a tough nut in Parliament sessions. Some time ago when Pranab Mukherjee was treated badly by a member of the RS, Jaya Bachchan expressed her displeasure quite openly. She talked about how ‘senior members should be treated with respect’ and how this kind of behaviour leads to the common man having a bad perception about politicians. So will Jaya object to issues raised by Rekha, never mind for what reasons? Our guess is that she wouldn’t even want to go there. For years now, photographers have been trying hard to get the two women in the same frame and when they have done so, it has been all about air-kisses and social graces. So to be caught on national television arguing issues would be the last thing the ladies would want!

Anyway, what subjects could Rekha possible discuss with coherence and knowledge? Will she speak of taxes on garments, especially silk saris? Or will she talk about concessions and privileges for single veteran film actors? And will the diva give styling tips to the women in Parliament during break time! Most of all, will she manage to attend the RS sessions regularly and will she engage in debates and discussions at all? We’ll have to wait and see.

Honestly, it’s tough to say what these ladies really do in the Rajya Sabha. Hema Malini has often been asked about the issues she has raised in Parliament, but the Dream Girl has never been able to come up with a satisfactory answer. All she says is ‘we have raised several important issues’. What we do know is that before joining the RS, she was terrified of having to watch the fights that break out during session. Having seen it on TV several times before, she was not sure how she would deal with it, she has said. But Hema Malini eventually got used to the heated discussions that were purportedly of national interest.

Abhineta neta ho sakta hai, magar neta abhineta nahi ho sakta (Actors can be politicians, but politicians can’t be actors),” Hema Malini said. But why not? If all the B-town ladies can make their presence felt in Parliament, why can’t the likes of Jayalalita, Sushma Swaraj and Renuka Chaudhary act? And if you consider the dramas they have been part of in and outside the sanctified confines of the house, a filmi career would not be such a long shot, no!