SocietyPolitics Jaya Bachchan’s Political Journey: Key Points And Reflections

Jaya Bachchan’s Political Journey: Key Points And Reflections

After her re-election in 2024, Jaya Bachchan is set to become one of the only people who have served as a Rajya Sabha MP five times

Of all the notable persons of cinema who moved to politics, Jaya Bachchan has perhaps the most illustrious career in both the latter and the former. An alumna of FTII, Jaya Bachchan née Bhaduri first greeted the nation as an actor in Hrishikesh Mukherjee’s 1971 film Guddi and has since acted in a lot of major Indian films and has immortalised herself on the big screen for many years to come and her political journey has been of equal significance.

Bachchan first entered the political arena in 2004, as a Member of Parliament in the Rajya Sabha as a member of the Samajwadi Party from Uttar Pradesh. She served until March 2006 before securing a second term from June 2006 to July 2010. She was re-elected for a third term in 2012 and later for a fourth term in 2018, continuing to represent the Samajwadi Party in the Rajya Sabha. After her re-election in 2024, Jaya Bachchan is set to become one of the only people who have served as a Rajya Sabha MP five times.

As impressive as her especially long tenure sounds, it calls for a critical analysis of the positions she has taken in parliament, the controversies she has been mired in, and the issues she has championed to gain a comprehensive understanding of Jaya Bachchan the politician who is often shrouded in the glory of Jaya Bachchan the actress. Here is a brief look back at the notable points of her political career since 2004 and an analysis of how impactful she has been in her office. 

The numbers

Jaya Bachchan’s attendance in parliament has been an exemplary 82 per cent in her last tenure. She has a higher attendance percentage than the national average of 79 per cent but it is slightly lower than the average of Uttar Pradesh which is 83 per cent. She has participated in 292 debates and has asked a total of 451 questions in parliament. These questions have been related to a variety of concerns from environment, forest, and climate change to labour and employment to culture to technology but unfortunately, what usually makes the news are her remarks regarding cinema in India or sensationalised clips of her yelling in the parliament.

Causes championed

Even though Jaya Bachchan has actively participated in debates surrounding matters of national importance, her career as a film actress never quite seems to relegate itself to a secondary position in favour of her career as a politician. The most well-watched videos of her parliamentary presence are reports of her pronouncements regarding the RRR winning at the Oscars, and her mercurial outburst at a BJP MP’s remarks about Aishwariya Rai Bachchan, her daughter-in-law, who was facing inquiries by the Enforcement Directorate about the Panama Papers case, and her condemnation of the people who attempt to defame the film industry, an entity that provides direct and indirect employment to several lakhs of people in the nation. These give her the image of an affluent and privileged person who advocates for the rights of people who are equally affluent and privileged.

Both inside and outside the parliament, Jaya Bachchan is known to have condemned the illicit manner in which the farm laws repeal bill was passed in parliament and how the farmers were being treated. She has lent her ethos to the demand to ensure MSP to farmers. She also talked about the “mockery of democracy” that was the suspension of 146 MPs during the winter session of 2023.

Her actions often align with the ideology of the Samajwadi Party. She is known to have asked for “reservations within reservations” for minority women when discussing the Women Reservation Bill.

Source: ANI

“If you are really serious about giving tickets to the people for 33 per cent seats, especially from the minority communities whom you have shown great empathy towards, these Muslim women, by bringing in the Triple Talaq (Bill). Now give them a ticket. Do not do it just for promotion, it is your habit. Reservation within reservation. Women belonging to minority communities,” Bachchan has said.

Additionally, Bachchan has also been outspoken about environmentalism and the “undeclared emergency” that the current state of pollution levels across the country is, a discussion during which many were not present in the Rajya Sabha.

“It shows how seriously we are taking this,” says Bachchan. “Fantastic participation for such a serious cause – Environmental Emergency (…) Please penalise people, don’t just put the blame on farmers.”

For a socialist party whose president, Akhilesh Yadav, keeps talking about how they must give precedence to “Pichhre, Dalit, Alpasankhyak” abbreviated to PDA (backward, Dalit, Minorities), the constant re-election of a person who is often called the “First lady of Bollywood” does not necessarily scream sincerity

Bachchan has spoken on several other issues including but not limited to the growing politicisation of religion in the country, the need to criminalise marital rape, and suicide and mental health issues. She has vociferously proclaimed that the perpetrators of sexual assault need to be “brought out in public and lynched.”

Coming from a person of governmental significance, however, this does not bode well for the judicial process of a democracy. Justice should be swift but it should not happen on the streets.

For a socialist party whose president, Akhilesh Yadav, keeps talking about how they must give precedence to “Pichhre, Dalit, Alpasankhyak” abbreviated to PDA (backward, Dalit, Minorities), the constant re-election of a person who is often called the “First lady of Bollywood” does not necessarily scream sincerity.

Source: PTI

All in all, overshadowed as her contribution is by her image, Jaya Bachchan has managed to make the most of her political career and it is not entirely her fault that the media chooses to represent her participation in the parliament only as an extension of her image as a member of a dynastic film family but it is also necessary to recognise that she has had several advantages due to her background in the cinemas and that she could still be doing more than she has done thus far. Her political journey has not been unproblematic. She is a person who, along with her husband owns assets worth Rs. 1578 crores, speaking for the rights of the minorities whose plight she cannot possibly know firsthand. 

Jaya Bachchan has had a good run but still has a long way to go if she hopes to be able to adequately voice the concerns of the oppressed. She has addressed several issues of significance but if she is to be taken seriously and not just as another film actor jumping on the political bandwagon she must stand away from frivolity as from a plague.


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