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Star wars in Andhra politics

india Updated: Oct 13, 2008 01:06 IST
Prasad Nichenametla
Prasad Nichenametla
Hindustan Times
Highlight Story

Voters in Andhra Pradesh will face a tough choice in the coming elections in the state. They will have to go with their favourite hero or vote for a politician they have faith in.

Film stars’ support for political parties is not new to Andhra Pradesh where movie-going is an essential part of life. But this time it’s going to be a clash of titans, with two Tollywood heavyweights jumping into the electoral fray.

Assembly elections are due in the state in May next year.

To counter megastar Chiranjeevi, who launched his party Praja Rajyam earlier this year, the Telugu Desam Party (TDP) has roped in Balakrishna, son of TDP founder NT Rama Rao.

Balakrishna, No. 2 in the Telugu film industry, commands a huge fan base in the regions of Rayalaseema and costal Andhra. He and his family comprising young stars like Jr NTR and Kalyanram have vowed to bring former state chief minister N. Chandrababu Naidu back to power.

Naidu is married to NTR’s daughter (Balakrishna’s sister) and Naidu’s son recently wedded Balakrishna’s daughter — making their personal bond stronger.

“TDP is launched by NTR and as his sons and grandsons. They will take the party forward. Balakrishna held a meeting with his fans’ associations for this purpose,” K. Yerran Naidu, TDP parliamentary party leader, said.

Though the Congress has its own fears, Chiranjeevi’s foray has dented the TDP the most, with many of its major leaders deserting the party and joining the Praja Rajyam.

Chief Minister Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy has reacted to this development by saying the Congress doesn’t need reel heroes and is confident of its pro-poor schemes and Sonia Gandhi’s charisma. But lately the state Congress seems to be feeling the need for the glamour quotient in its political battles.

Superstar of yesteryear Krishna and another actor Rajashekhar have come out in support of the Congress. The party is also keen on Krishna’s son Mahesh Babu. who’s a craze among the youth.

The battle is also about caste, an underlying feature of politics and filmdom. Traditionally the TDP is seen as a party of Kammas and the majority of Kammas are fans of the NTR family.

Chiranjeevi is from the Kapu community, which is upbeat about their screen idol emerging as their political messiah.

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