Nov 8, 2008

India - Star Power in Andhra Elections

HYDERABAD: The assembly election in Andhra Pradesh next year is likely to witness a battle royal among top stars of the Telugu film industry, with the ruling Congress planning to rope in popular star Akkineni Nagarjuna to counter superstar-turned-politician Chiranjeevi as well as the late chief minister NT Rama Rao’s sons and grandsons.

With Chiranjeevi launching his Praja Rajyam party and the main opposition Telugu Desam Party (TDP) banking on its founder NTR’s family, the ruling party too has decided to use film glamour.

After roping in Nagarjuna to act in some TV advertisements to publicise its welfare schemes, the Congress is trying to persuade him to campaign for it in the election, due in March-April.

The Congress began its effort to rope in Nagarjuna soon after a massive public meeting organised by the TDP in Guntur where NTR’s son and popular actor Nandamuri Balakrishna took the plunge into politics.

The meeting was also attended by two actor grandsons of NTR. Meanwhile, Chiranjeevi’s state-wide yatra is drawing huge crowds.

Nagarjuna, 49, son of thespian Akkineni Nageswara Rao, had appeared in a few advertisements for the TDP before the 2004 election.

Though Congress leaders have often claimed that chief minister YS Rajasekhara Reddy was capable of taking on actors like Chiranjeevi and Balakrishna, the party seems to have realised that it needs star charisma to retain power.

The Congress has already made efforts to woo young star Mahesh Babu to campaign for it. While Mahesh Babu has remained non-committal, his father, yesteryear superstar Krishna, has already announced that he would support the ruling party. Krishna, a former Congress MP, has also formed an association of fans called the Krishna-Mahesh Sena.

The ruling party recently also inducted actors like Rajasekhar, his wife Jeevitha, Jayasudha, and Srihari to add glamour in its ranks.

Though TDP chief N Chandrababu Naidu has not yet succeeded in roping in NTR’s grandson Junior NTR, one of the top young actors in the state, his party is confident after the success of the Guntur meeting that the star appeal of Balakrishna, his brother and TDP MP Harikrishna, and NTR’s grandsons Tarakaranta and Kalyan Ram is enough to bring it back to power.

No comments: