Kannada actor Anant Nag, a self-proclaimed ‘Modi bhakt’, set to join BJP

The 75-year-old Anant Nag, whose contribution to theatre and cinema has been significant, entered politics in the 1980s largely because of his brother, the late actor Shankar Nag

Anant Nag joins BJP
Of late, Anant Nag has been constantly praising Prime Minister Narendra Modi and unabashedly calls himself a 'Modi Bhakt'

Even as Karnataka is all set to go to the polls by May this year, veteran Kannada actor Anant Nag has now decided to get actively involved in politics once again, by joining the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

The BJP has arranged a programme on Wednesday (February 22) evening to welcome  Anant Nag and others into the party. Party sources said that BJP state president Nalin Kumar Kateel and other office bearers will also be present on the occasion.

Anant Nag was in the news recently for not being honoured with the Padma Shri Award though he has spent nearly 50 years in cinema. Of late, however, Nag has been prominently praising the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP, with an eye to join the saffron party. His entry into the BJP party fold at this critical stage will mean that he will be roped in as a star campaigner in the upcoming elections.

The 75-year-old Anant Nag, whose contribution to theatre, Indian parallel cinema and the Kannada film industry has been significant, entered politics in the 1980s largely because of his brother, the veteran late actor Shankar Nag. His brother was very close to former Karnataka chief minister, the late Ramakrishna Hegde, which led Anant Nag to join the Janata Party, under the leadership of Hegde.

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Anant Nag was the star campaigner of the Janata Party and later of the Janata Dal during the elections in 1983, 1985, and 1989.

Also read: With eye on polls, Karnataka MLAs who quit Congress for BJP mull ‘ghar wapsi’

Later, Anant Nag contested from Malleshwaram constituency and became an MLA in 1994. He even served as a cabinet minister in the JH Patel government, holding the post of the Bangalore urban development minister. Later, he moved to JD(S) and contested on the party ticket from Chamarajpet constituency in 2004 but he lost the elections. He also contested the 1983 Lok Sabha elections from the Canara constituency but he was not successful.

‘Modi bhakt’

Of late, Anant Nag has been repeatedly praising Narendra Modi and the BJP leadership. And, he also expressed his desire to see Modi become PM again. In fact, he openly and unabashedly calls himself a ‘Modi Bhakt’ and he believes that India is becoming a Vishwa Guru nation under the leadership of Modi.

Party sources said that Anant Nag will play an active role in the upcoming 2023 elections. The BJP state unit is planning massive campaign rallies in the state, which will include Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Union home minister Amit Shah, BJP national president JP Nadda and other central party leaders. JP Nadda is already currently touring the state for three days and Amit Shah is expected to visit the state on Friday (February 24) again.

Anant Nag will make some gains at the fag end of his career by joining the BJP, said political Analyst Ananth Chinivar. “He is indeed a great actor in Indian cinema and he should have been given a Padma Award. Now, he may aspire for such recognition politically by working for the BJP as a star campaigner. He is still a star to reckon with in Karnataka,” Chinivar told The Federal.

Further, he said that Anant Nag was the favourite of Ramakrishna Hegde and his politics has been ‘right of centre’. Recently, Ananth Nag revealed his connections to the Chitrapur Mutt, which belongs to his Goud Saraswat Brahmin (GSB) community. He is heavily influenced by right-wing ideology and there is no surprise that he is joining the BJP, he added.

“Nag’s statements on the controversial movie ‘The Kashmir Files’ and his favourite politician Modi were clear indications that he would move to the BJP sooner or later,” said Chinivar.

Also read: Poll ploy? Modi has dinner with Kannada film stars, cricketers, entrepreneurs

Contribution to theatre and cinema

Though, Anant Nag hailed from the coastal town of Udupi, he became popular working in Marathi theatre. He teamed up with heavyweights like Amol Palekar and the late acclaimed theatre director Satyadev Dubey and produced social and political plays in Hindi and Marathi. From 1967 to 1972, he did more than fifty plays in Kannada, Konkani, Marathi and Hindi languages.

Following a successful theatre career in Mumbai, Nag made his film debut with Sankalpa, a 1973 Kannada film. He then became part of the Indian parallel cinema movement, which was at its peak in the 1970s and 1980s. Introduced to celebrated director Shyam Benegal by theatre director Satyadev Dubey, he starred in six of Benegal’s films: ‘Ankur’ (1974), ‘Nishant’ (1975), ‘Manthan’ (1976), ‘Bhumika’ (1978), ‘Kondura’ (1978) and ‘Kalyug’ (1981).

Though, he did not leave any mark in politics even when he was minister, Nag is recognised for his prodigious acting talent. He has acted in more than 300 films not only in Kannada but also in Marathi, Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam and Hindi. He has won five Karnataka film awards. His wife Gayatri is also a veteran actress in the Kannada film industry.

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