Boost to Chiranjeevi as two veteran politicians join himNovember 16th, 2008 - 5:13 pm ICT by IANS
Hyderabad, Nov 16 (IANS) Actor-turned-politician Chiranjeevi’s Praja Rajyam party, which had so far failed to attract veteran politicians from other parties, appears to have received a boost with two senior leaders of the Congress joining its ranks.While P. Shiv Shankar joined Praja Rajyam Saturday, former union minister P. Upendra has decided to join the new party later this month.
Chiranjeevi hopes to leverage the vast experience of these two senior politicians, who have not been in the limelight for the last few years.
Shiv Shankar, 80, once considered close to former prime minister Indira Gandhi, had quit the Congress on the eve of the 2004 elections as he was unhappy with the ticket distribution. Upendra, 72, was reportedly sidelined by the party leadership for nearly a decade.
Shiv Shankar held several key portfolios in the cabinets of Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi.
Like Chiranjeevi, Shiv Shankar also belongs to the Kapu community and he is expected to play a key role in enlisting the support of various backward classes for Praja Rajyam.
Soon after joining the party, Shiv Shankar, who also served as Kerala governor, once again targeted Sonia Gandhi saying the Congress president had no political values.
Chiranjeevi has appointed Shiv Shankar as head of the party’s manifesto committee as well as the legal cell.
Upendra, who was with Telugu Desam Party (TDP) before joining Congress, has declared that he would not contest elections but would serve as an advisor in Praja Rajyam.
Upendra, who went into political oblivion since losing the 1999 Lok Sabha elections, alleged that the Congress party failed to use his services.
While in TDP, Upendra had served as minister for parliamentary affairs, information and broadcasting in 1989-90. He later joined Congress and was elected to Lok Sabha from Vijayawada in 1996.
Ever since launching his party in August, Chiranjeevi had failed to attract any top leader from either Congress or TDP. Only a few former state ministers and former legislators from the major parties had joined the actor.
With two veteran leaders joining Praja Rajyam, party leaders are hoping that their rich experience would help strengthen the organisation in the run up to next year’s elections. The development comes close on the heels of Chiranjeevi naming party in-charges for all 23 districts.
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