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Chiranjeevi keeps political parties guessing (News Analysis)

Hyderabad, Dec 10 (IANS) Telugu superstar Chiranjeevi continues to keep political parties in Andhra Pradesh and his fans guessing about his plans of entering the political arena.

Published: Monday,Dec 10, 2007 13:31 PM GMT-07:00
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Hyderabad, Dec 10 (IANS) Telugu superstar Chiranjeevi continues to keep political parties in Andhra Pradesh and his fans guessing about his plans of entering the political arena.

Even as pressure is mounting from fans to take a plunge into politics, Chiranjeevi is keeping his cards close to his chest. Informed sources said he was in two minds and wants to test the waters first.

Chiru, as his fans popularly call the film star, has asked his supporters to be patient till he makes an announcement on the issue.

'I am deeply touched by the warmth displayed by countless people across the state in response to a news event. I appeal to all my supporters to be patient till I make an announcement. I have not authorised any individual or organisation to act on my behalf,' he had said in a statement issued Friday.

He was referring to reports in a section of the media that quoted sources close to him as saying that he would launch a political party in January.

While the ruling Congress and the main opposition Telugu Desam Party (TDP) are wary of the impact his entry would have on their prospects in the 2009 elections, smaller parties and caste-based outfits trying to forge a third front are eager to accept him as their leader.

Leaders of Kapu, the caste to which Chiranjeevi belongs, want him to enter politics without delay. Other backward classes are also looking towards him to take on the Kammas and Reddys, the powerful castes dominating the TDP and Congress respectively.

Speakers from Kapu, Mala and Madiga castes, at a meeting of weaker sections organised by former advocate general S. Ramchandra Rao here Sunday, also exhorted Chiranjeevi to lead them.

'We expect Chiranjeevi will lead us in our efforts to form a third alternative,' said Mala Mahanadu leader K. Shivaji.

Over the last few days, enthusiastic fans and supporters of the actor held meetings in his support across the state, especially in the politically significant coastal Andhra, the region to which the actor belongs.

They are confident that the actor would recreate the magic of thespian N.T. Rama Rao, who had taken politics by storm by coming to power within nine months of launching the TDP in 1982.

Chiranjeevi, one of the highest paid actors in the country who has acted in 148 films in a three-decade long career, is said to be consulting his family members and close friends about the timing of the launch of a new party and its policies and programmes. It is still not clear if his party will represent the interests of a particular caste or a group of castes.

Like other popular actors in the south, he also enjoys a demigod status. With 3,000 Chiranjeevi fan clubs across the state, his popularity can be compared to that of NTR.

The actor's entry could realign political forces in the state. The Left parties, who are keen on building a Third Front as an alternative to the Congress and TDP, said they would not mind joining hands with Chiranjeevi if he came up with specific policies and programmes.

'Let us wait for him to announce the launch of his party and its policies and programmes,' said Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) MP Suravaram Sudhakar Reddy.

Meanwhile, sources close to the 52-year-old actor said he was also planning a movie with a political message to mobilize public opinion in his favour.

The major political parties are wary of the impact of Chiranjeevi's entry in politics. Chief Minister Y.S. Rajasekhar Reddy said he would welcome the actor's foray into politics and would even ask him to join the Congress.

'He may leave an impact in the coastal belt and Rayalaseema regions but not in Telangana,' said Telangana Rashtra Samithi president K. Chandrasekhar Rao, whose party is fighting for separate statehood for the Telangana region.

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