A day before the second phase of elections in Andhra Pradesh, tension prevailed in the temple town of Tirupati as the state police tried to search the hotel where actor-turned-politician Chiranjeevi was staying following protest by ruling Congress activists.
Amid high drama, Chiranjeevi, who is contesting from Tirupati assembly constituency, insisted that the police conduct a search in the presence of media.
The trouble began when Congress activists gathered outside the hotel, alleging that the Praja Rajyam Party (PRP) chief was distributing money among voters. Chiranjeevi's supporters also gathered there, leading to a clash between the two groups.
Police and paramilitary force personnel used force to disperse the clashing groups. Later, a team of policemen went to Chiranjeevi's room to conduct a search.
An agitated Chiranjeevi urged the police to conduct the search in the presence of media persons. The policemen did not insist on carrying out the search.
Talking to reporters in the hotel, the actor alleged that the Congress was using anti-social elements to create trouble and defeat him in the elections.
In Hyderabad, PRP leaders met state Election Commissioner I.V. Subba Rao and Director General of Police A.K. Mohanty and demanded immediate steps to ensure free and fair polls in Tirupati constituency.
PRP general secretary Allu Aravind and vice president Devender Goud demanded transfer of some police officials from Tirupati, saying they were trying to favour the ruling party.
"Will they dare to search the rooms of Chief Minister Rajasekhara Reddy and Telugu Desam Party president Chandrababu Naidu? Is this the way to treat president of a party?" asked Aravind, who is also the brother-in-law of Chiranjeevi.
He alleged that the Congress had brought anti-social elements from the chief minister's home district Kadapa to create law and order problems in Tirupati. "Two parties have joined hands to defeat Chiranjeevi. I will name them after the elections," he said.
Chiranjeevi is contesting from Tirupati in Chittoor district and Palakollu in his native West Godavari district. The actor launched his political party in August last year with a massive public meeting in Tirupati.
The second and last phase of polling in 20 Lok Sabha constituencies and 150 assembly segments in the state will be held Thursday.