Andhra MP’s remark creates uproar in Congress

Hyderabad, Jan 5 (IANS) The prediction of senior leader and Congress MP Chegundi Harirama Jogaiah that Telugu superstar Chiranjeevi would become the next chief minister of Andhra Pradesh has sparked a row within the ruling party with its leadership seeking an explanation from him.

The party’s state unit has come down heavily on Jogaiah, member of Lok Sabha from Narsapur constituency in coastal Andhra, for saying the actor would storm the state politics and blow away Chief Minister Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy’s development mantra.

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Acting president of the party’s state unit G.S. Rao told reporters Saturday he had sought an explanation from Jogaiah. “How can he criticise the chief minister of his own party?” wondered Rao.

He said while Jogaiah’s prediction of Chiranjeevi becoming the next chief minister could be his personal view, it was not good on his part to comment that Rajasekhara Reddy’s term as chief minister would last only a few days.

Jogaiah, however, stuck to his guns and warned Saturday that he would quit both the post and the party if he were issued show cause notice on the issue. He said if Chiranjeevi launched a party, he would join it.

Jogaiah had stated Friday that people of the state were waiting eagerly to see Chiranjeevi in the chief minister’s chair and no force on earth could stop him from occupying that position.

He said the actor would have equal popularity in all the regions of the state. He claimed Chiranjeevi had the image of “Mr. Clean” while all established political parties were “polluted”.

The MP, like the actor, belongs to the Kapu caste and hails from coastal Andhra. He has been favouring bifurcation of the state against the wishes of the party leadership. He predicted that Chiranjeevi’s reported stand in favour of statehood to Telangana would have no backlash in coastal Andhra and Rayalseema regions.

This is the first time that the speculations of Chiranjeevi’s entry into politics have created a stir in the ruling party.

Other close aides of the chief minister were quick to hit back at Jogaiah. Revenue Minister Dharmana Prasad Rao said Reddy was the real hero for the poor, who were able to have two square meals because of him. “Cinema glamour cannot wipe out the popularity of the chief minister.”

Another minister T. Jeevan Reddy said if Chiranjeevi wanted to serve people he should focus on social activities. “Where is the need of floating another party?” he asked.

Chiranjeevi’s fans, the Kapu community and leaders of different groups are keeping their fingers crossed as the actor has said he needs more time to decide on taking a plunge into politics. He has appealed to his fans to be patient while his advisers have hinted that he will soon announce formation of a new party.

Chiranjeevi is reportedly planning to follow in the footsteps of thespian N.T. Rama Rao, who came to power within nine months of launching the Telugu Desam Party in 1982.