Think politics in Andhra Pradesh, think move stars — from matinee idol NT Rama Rao, voted to power nine months after forming Telugu Desam Party (TDP) in 1982, to K Chiranjeevi, who failed at the same attempt in the 2009 elections.
As in the past, the 2014 elections — where AP also votes for its assembly — are star-studded. But instead of contesting, most actors, directors and producers are supporting a candidate or party of their choice. There are exceptions.
Two of the biggest stars in the Telugu film industry are facing each other in campaigning across Seemandhra. While NTR’s son Nandamuri Balakrishna is the TDP candidate from Hindupur assembly seat, union minister K Chiranjeevi is steering the Congress campaign. For their fans, the political theatre will end a 20-year debate on who is the bigger hero.
Balakrishna, buoyed by the success of his latest film Legend, has thrown his weight behind brother-in-law and TDP chief Chandrababu Naidu. He is drawing the crowds unlike Chiranjeevi alias Chiru who appears to have lost his charm after merging his Praja Rajyam Party (PRP) with the Congress. He is also seen as representing a party responsible for the bifurcation mess.
Even his brother and superstar Pawan Kalyan, who campaigned for PRP in 2009, has turned against Chiru. So miffed is Pawan with his brother’s decisions that he chose to leave the glamour world to “teach the Congress a lesson”.
Pawan launched his Janasena Party in March but is not contesting polls for he does not want to “split votes and benefit the Congress” like his brother did in 2009. A craze among the youth, he is campaigning for the TDP-BJP alliance, sharing the dais with Narendra Modi and Naidu.
TRS chief KC Rao, appealing to Telanganites not to be taken in by film stars, has ironically fielded popular comedian from the Andole assembly seat. The Congress too has yesteryear’s heartthrob Jayasudha, contesting to retain the Secunderabad assembly seat, and Roja (Nagari assembly seat). And while star director SS Rajamouli is supporting Lok Satta, a couple of character artistes are contesting the assembly polls for former CM Kiran Reddy’s Jai Samaikhyandhra Party.
But the star power is loaded in favour of TDP, which like the film industry is dominated by people belonging to the Kamma caste.