CHURUMURI POLL: Can Chiranjeevi do an NTR?

The political arangetram at 2.38 pm on Sunday, August 17, by Konidela Siva Sankara Vara Prasad alias Chiranjeevi, in Hyderabad, marks the entry of another film star in the “cesspool of Indian politics”. Quoting B.R. Ambedkar, Mahatma Gandhi, Mother Teresa and A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, the 53-year-old “megastar”, son of a police constable, pledged to dedicate the rest of his life to Dalits, the downtrodden and the backward classes. And to turn Andhra Pradesh into a happy and smiling State.

Chiranjeevi’s political ambitions, as Andhra Pradesh enters an election year, alters the poll paradigm in much the same manner as the entry of another thespian 25 years ago: Nandamuri Taraka Rama Rao. NTR’s Telugu Desam Party went on to sweep the AP polls ten months later, but does Chiranjeevi, a Kapu, have the same appeal as NTR, a Kamma? Does Chiranjeevi have the draw to romp home or will he only end up eating into the votes of the TDP and the Congress?

Above all, does a film star really have the solutions to the ills of a large State? Or are gullible voters only living their celluloid fantasies, expecting their on-screen demigods to sweep the stables clean?