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ChiranjeeviChiranjeevi set to don political robes
06th Aug 2008  11.00 IST
By Agencies  

In several of his blockbusters, Telugu superstar Chiranjeevi makes a 'grand entry', often marked by tantalizing precursors that send his fans into rapturous joy.

A similar sense of anticipation grips the political circles in Andhra Pradesh now as the actor is all set to enter politics and announce the launch of a new party this month.

Fifty-three year old Chiranjeevi, who rose from humble background to become the reigning star of Telugu cinema, is expected to announce his political plans in the third week of August, which will be followed by a series of public meetings and road shows across the state.

"The announcement will be made without any fanfare. Later, a public meeting will be held in Hyderabad and Tirupati after August 15 where the party's name, agenda and programmes will be unveiled," the sources close to the actor said.

For several months now, there has been a flurry of activity in Chiranjeevi's camp with two of his brothers and brother-in-law, all connected with the Telugu cinema industry, and his close aides organizing meetings with the fans associations and people from various walks of life and training programmes for the potential cadre ahead of the party formation.

Chiranjeevi, a Padma Bhushan awardee who has acted in 148 films in his three-decade long career, is among the highest paid actors in the country and has a massive following particularly among the youth.

Chiranjeevi is a hero often seen as in the mould of the late N T Rama Rao with an image of a do-gooder, kind-hearted and loving family man.

When he dons the political robes analysts feel it will be a kind of repeat of the era. NTR, the demi-God of Telugu cinema, who stormed to power within nine months of floating TDP in 1983, achieved a feat that is unparallel in India's political history.

The admirers of Chiru, as Chiranjeevi is referred to in film circles, are hopeful that their hero will re-create the magic of NTR while some others argue that he lacks the charisma of NTR.

The new party plans to position itself as an alternative to Congress and TDP, the two main political formations at present, sources close to the star say.

Political analysts, however, feel that the ageing actor will find it difficult to garner support from across the communities despite considerable fan following.

However, his followers argue that his entry will alter the present political equations in the state where elections are due in May next year.

The main political players fear that their traditional support base might erode if the superstar takes the political plunge. The TDP is already reeling under widespread desertions by several frontline leaders who are said to be keenly watching moves of the star.

The left parties, who have been making efforts to forge Third Front in the state, said they would work with the actor provided he comes up with a definite set of policies and programmes.

Several senior leaders across the political spectrum have already indicated their willingness to join Chiranjeevi's party. Prominent among them are Congress MP from Narsapur Ch Harirama Jogaiah, former TDP minister K Vidyadhar Rao and former TDP MP B Nagi Reddy.

Chiranjeevi, who hails from West Godavari district in the coastal region, is seen by 'Kapus', a dominant community to which he belongs, as the best bet to fill the perceived political vacuum and end the domination of Congress and TDP in the state.

He is also being projected as a rallying point for backward classes yearning for their share of political power. As a prelude to donning the political robes, the cost accountant turned film star has been quietly making efforts to build a larger-then-life image for himself. His recent films provide a glimpse of his political aspirations.

The titles of his recent films, loaded with political message, and the increased philanthropic activity through the blood bank he had floated years ago have not gone unnoticed in political circles.

'Born for the People' was the tagline for his 2002 film Indra that deals with political violence in Rayalaseema region.

Then came Tagore , a year later, in which the superstar dons the role of a corruption-buster who advocates formation of anti-corruption force to wage a war against the menace.

In Stalin , Chiranjeevi is a man of the masses, a do-gooder who comes to aid of those in distress.

From the dusty small town of Narsapur in West Godavari district, Konidela Siva Sankara Vara Prasad, his original name, has come a long way to dominate the Telugu tinsel world.

With no family connection with the film industry, Chiranjeevi's was a lone journey from rags to riches. After graduation in Narsapur, he moved to Chennai, the hub of south Indian films, where he worked as cost accountant and enrolled himself in a film institute.

He made his debut in 1977 with 'Manavoori Pandavulu', a hugely successful film directed by Bapu. There was no looking back since then.

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