Stars cast a spell on Andhra election scene

March 20th, 2009 - 10:53 am ICT by IANS  

By Mohammed Shafeeq
Hyderabad, March 20 (IANS) Star power is exploding on the Andhra Pradesh election scene, with popular actors attracting fans and curious voters alike in thousands as they campaign for the simultaneous assembly and Lok Sabha polls.

They have all been roped in by various political parties to lure cinema-crazy Telugus.

One of these is heartthrob Junior NTR - the young and popular star and grandson of legendary N.T. Rama Rao - who has taken the campaign trail by storm as he asks people to vote for the Telugu Desam Party (TDP).

NTR’s son N. Balakrishna had been campaigning for a few days but the TDP erupted in jubilation when Junior NTR hit the campaign trail last week in north coastal Andhra.

Upbeat over the massive response to the actor’s road shows, the TDP hopes his uncanny resemblance to NTR may act to its advantage.

On a 40-day non-stop poll tour, he drew huge crowds in the north coastal Andhra districts of Srikakulam, Vijaynagaram and Visakhapatnam.

Buoyed by the public response, TDP chief and former chief minister N. Chandrababu Naidu is hoping to come back to power. Junior NTR and Balakrishna are like a tsunami which will sweep away the Congress party, he said.

Standing atop his specially decorated vehicle and moving from one end to the other, Junior NTR is addressing the crowds in a style reminiscent of his legendary grandfather. His dress, the theatrical punch in his speeches and the dialogues criticising the ruling Congress party all remind of NTR.

What endeared NTR to the masses was his theatrics in real life. His grandson is trying to revive the same magic. He is sleeping wherever his convoy is stopping and having tea or snacks by the roadside.

His grandfather - Nandamuri Taraka Rama Rao aka NTR - had created a record by coming to power within nine months after launching the TDP in 1982. The thespian, who enjoyed the status of demi-god died in 1996, a few months after he was unseated by his son-in-law Chandrababu Naidu.

That the Congress party is worried over the response Junior NTR is getting was evident when it demanded a ban on the screening of movies starring actors campaigning for various parties.

Then there is former popular actress Roja, who heads the women’s wing of the TDP.

Actor-turned-politician Chiranjeevi has been touring the state ever since he launched the Praja Rajyam Party in August last year. He is supported by his actor brothers Pavan Kalyan and Naga Babu.

The Congress seems to be lagging behind in the “star wars” as it has failed to rope in any popular actor. Yesteryear superstar and former MP Krishna has declared his support, but the party was really keen on roping in his son and popular actor Mahesh Babu.

Though actor couple Rajasekhar and Jeevitha, actress Jayasudha are also with the Congress, their popularity is not comparable to their rivals in other parties.

Popular actress Vijayshanti, who earned the nickname of “Lady Amitabh” for her roles, is campaigning for the Telangana Rashtra Samiti (TRS).

(Mohammed Shafeeq can be contacted at

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