Chiranjeevi sends ripples in Andhra politics

August 18th, 2008 - 5:29 pm ICT by IANS  

A file-photo of Sonia Gandhi

Hyderabad, Aug 18 (IANS) The political entry of Telugu superstar Chiranjeevi sent ripples among major parties in Andhra Pradesh and triggered wild celebrations among his fans across the state. Hours after the actor announced that he was entering politics, Congress MP from Narsapur, Hariram Jogaiah quit both the ruling party and Lok Sabha. He told newsmen here Monday that he had faxed his resignation to Congress president Sonia Gandhi and Lok Sabha speaker Somnath Chatterjee.

However, the resignation by senior Congress leader was not surprising as he had already declared that he would quit the party the day Chiranjeevi takes political plunge. “In line with the decision, I resigned both from Congress party and Lok Sabha,” he said.

Jogaiah will join Chiranjeevi’s party, whose name and agenda would be announced by the actor himself at a public meeting at temple town of Tirupati on August 26. Jogaiah, who like Chiranjeevi hails from Kapu community, was issued notice by Congress party leadership recently for stating that the actor would become the next chief minister of the state and both Congress and TDP would be washed away in the ‘tsunami’.

At least four former legislators of both the ruling Congress party and the main opposition Telugu Desam Party (TDP) and several other district-level leaders announced their resignations to join the Chiranjeevi’s party.

Former MPs C. Ramchandraiah, B. Nagi Reddy, his wife and former legislator S. Nagi Reddy, who all quit TDP recently, are set to join Chiranjeevi’s party. Former state minister K. Vidyadhar Rao, who was expelled from TDP for openly supporting the actor, has already announced his decision to sail with him.

Though both major parties tried to put a brave face by claiming the new outfit would have no impact on them, their leaders were busy discussing the fallout and steps to prevent defections.

Chief Minister Y. S. Rajasekhara Reddy Monday met Congress president Sonia Gandhi in Delhi and discussed the latest political situation. Before leaving for Delhi, he told a party meeting that Chiranjeevi’s party would have no impact on the ruling party. He was confident that Congress would retain power on the basis of ‘good work’ done during last four-and-half years.

The state is scheduled to go to polls in March next year and Chiranjeevi’s party is likely to alter the political equations by emerging as third major force.

TDP, whose prospects are likely to be badly hit by the actor, alleged that he was encouraging defections. TDP parliamentary party leader K. Yerran Naidu criticised Chiranjeevi for inviting leaders of other parties to join hands with him.

Meanwhile, celebrations by the actor’s fans over his political entry continued across the state. They took out processions, hailing his decision to take a plunge into politics.

Raising slogans of ‘Jai Chiranjeeva’, bursting crackers and carrying banners and his portraits, fans took out rallies in different parts of the state. Dancing to the tunes of popular numbers from Chiranjeevi’s movies, they garlanded his huge cut-outs.

The fans’ associations in various towns had put up giant television screen to watch the actor’s maiden news conference telecast live on Sunday. They cheered when the actor announced that he was dedicating his life to serve people.

So wild were the celebrations that eight fans were injured while bursting crackers in Kakinada town. The actor announced that he would bear the cost of their treatment.

Chiranjeevi’s fans are confident that he would recreate N. T. Rama Rao’s magic by becoming the chief minister within few months after launching the party. NTR, as the matinee idol was popularly known, had created history by coming to power within nine months after launching TDP in 1992.

Chiranjeevi, who’s real name is Konidela Siva Shankara Varaprasad, turns 53 on Aug 22. Hailing from a remote village West Godavari district in coastal Andhra, the son of a excise constable rose to the dizzy heights of stardom.

His popularity is often compared with that of NTR, who died in 1996. Chiranjeevi acted in about 150 films during his 30-year-old film career. He was virtually ruling the film industry for last decade.

One of the highest paid actors in India, he was awarded Padma Vibhushan in 2006 for his contributions to Telugu cinema and his social services.

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