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Tuesday, January 8, 2008

YSR sees no threat from Chiranjeevi

HYDERABAD: Andhra Pradesh chief minister Dr YS Rajashekar Reddy today said that new political entities like the one expected to be floated by Telugu film star Chiranjeevi or the Bahujan Samaj Party would not be a factor in state politics. Chiranjeevi is the biggest film star after NT Rama Rao in Telugu filmdom.

“We are the reigning champions, as they say in sports. We will be challenged in next year’s general elections. For the past 25 years, it has been between the Congress and the TDP. Now if there are new challengers, it will be good for us as it will further reinforce the fact that we are the champions. Frankly, the more the merrier”, he told the close aides who spoke to the media.

Dr Reddy was closeted with them to figure out the impact Chiranjeevi would have as he belongs to the Kapu community. The Kapus have largely voted for the Congress but with Chiranjeevi’s entry, the Congress leaders fear that they would choose him en masse.

Dr Reddy discounted this theory. He referred to a couple of recent surveys he had ordered to find how communities choose their parties. “For instance, the TDP is perceived as a Kamma community party, but over 40 per cent are consistently voting for us. The Congress is seen as a Reddy community party, but one third are with the TDP. The trend is the same among all other communities. Even in Gujarat, 30 per cent of the Muslims voted for the BJP,” he reportedly said.

Aides pointed to the trend across the country that when a second regional party emerges, the Congress always has been the loser. Dr Reddy said this is a fact in states like Tamil Nadu, Bihar and Uttar Pradesh. He gave the watershed years for those states and the leaders who played out their roles.

“At that period, in none of these places, there was a strong state Congress leadership. The second is that there was substantial dissatisfaction with the Congress. The situation is exactly the opposite in AP”.

“The Congress here is more of a regional party. Issues like free power, housing, free health insurance and land distribution are all the state’s initiatives done in consultation with the party high command. Thanks to Mrs Sonia Gandhi, we are a strong leadership in the state. And never in the past was the party mechanism such a well oiled machine as it is now,” he said. Significantly, Dr Reddy said that Chiranjeevi was attempting to fill in the political vacuum caused by the TDP.

“Mr N Chandrababu Naidu is getting increasingly desperate, which means he will make more mistakes in the run-up to the elections,” he said.

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