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Chiranjeevi: A father's dilemma
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As the political atmosphere in Andhra Pradesh is hotting up ahead of assembly elections, one and a half year away, there is fresh speculation over Telugu matinee idol Chiranjeevi's [Images] entry into politics.
While there was no word from the superstar, sources close to him say the exercise has begun to elicit views from people from various walks of life as a precursor to his foray into politics.
The actor is believed to have made up his mind to take the plunge and is likely annouce his decision after Sankranti fesival in January.
Chiru, as the actor is affectionately called by his fans and film industry, has been keeping the cards close to his chest about his political plans.
The leaders of powerful Kapu community, to which the star belongs, have been trying to persuade him to enter politics and end the domination of the two major castes -- Kamma and Reddy -- in the state.
However, Chiranjeevi who has a massive fan following across the communities, is said to be wary of being projected as a Kapu leader.
But he is expected to fill the leadership vaccum being felt among the numerically strong yet politically marginalised backward classes, scheduled castes, scheduled tribes and minorities.
Of late, there have been efforts by Left parties to project Chiranjeevi, who has acted in 148 films, as a rallying point for weaker sections and leader of a possible Third Front as an alternative to the ruling Congress and main opposition Telugu Desam Party.
The Left parties, particularly the Communist Party of India, have been in the forefront of efforts to forge a Third Front by roping in Chiranjeevi.
Media reports also suggested that Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati-led Bahujan Samaj Party was keen on working with the actor.
Chirnajeevi's fans have been rooting for his foray into politics and are confident that he can repeat the magic of the late N T Rama Rao who had stormed to power within nine months of floating the TDP and ended Congress monopoly in the state in 1983.
Though speculation about his entry into politics has been surfacing on and off for the last 15 years, the actor maintained a stoic silence.
However, in recent times he is said to be holding parleys with his aides and well-wishers in a bid to assess the political situation.
Chiranjeevi, a Padma Bhushan awardee, has been active in social work and philanthropic activity through the Chiranjeevi Blood Bank and Chiranjeevi Charitable Trust he floated couple of years ago.
The reports of his possible political plunge evoked enthusiastic response from his fans who organised rallies across the state and burst into celebrations in anticipation of their leader donning the political mantle.
The major political parties reacted guardedly to the fresh buzz about Chiranjeevi's political entry.
While Chief Minister Y S Rajasekhara Reddy said he would welcome any one joining politics and "more so" Chiranjeevi, the TDP leaders said they would rather wait for the actor to announce his decision.
"In a democracy, anybody can join politics. Chiranjeevi is yet to announce his decision. Why should we comment before that?" senior TDP leader and former minister K Vidyadhara Rao said.
Echoing similar views, the state CPI secretary K Narayana said there was no clear-cut statement from the actor so far about his political plans.
CPI-M politburo member and state secretary B V Raghavulu said it was not the individual but the policies that matter.
Telangana Rashtra Samithi Member of Parliament K Vinod Kumar said the present political situation was completely different from the one that had prevailed when NTR launched a political party.
The 52-year-old actor was born in Mogalturu in West Godavari district and made his debut in 1977 with Mana Voori Pandavulu directed by noted Telugu director Bapu.
His younger daughter Srija had recently hit the headlines when she married her boyfriend against her parents' wishes.
She sought police protection from the Delhi high court fearing threat from her father's fans.
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