Friday, October 3, 2008


Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Y.S. Rajashekhar Reddy is a worried man these days. Will the emergence of superstar Chiranjeevi as a political leader threaten YSR’s prospects of a second term? The answer seems to be 10, Janpath.
The state is schedule to go to polls in April 2009 simultaneously with the general elections. And Reddy, sources said, wants Congress president Sonia Gandhi to tour all the 23 districts before that.
Sonia is also stated to be keen on Andhra Pradesh, which sent 31 of the Congress’ 153 members in the Lok Sabha. Andhra has 42 Lok Sabha seats. The party is now looking at improving its tally.
The Congress chief will begin her tour of the state on Thursday, covering three districts — Chittoor, Kadapa and Anantpur. While she will address women’s groups in Tirupati, there will be a rally in Anantpur and project inauguration in Kadapa, Reddy’s home turf.
Sonia has already toured two districts — Nellore and Prakasam — in July, just before the trust vote in Parliament. It was in Nellore where she launched a public attack on the Left and the Opposition and took the nuclear deal to the people.
Though Reddy claims that the Congress will get around 230 of the 294 seats in the assembly, the massive support that Chiranjeevi and his party — the Praja Rajyam — have generated across the state is a matter of concern.
“Chiranjeevi is certainly a superstar with charisma and commands good following in the state,” a senior Congress leader admitted to the Hindustan Times.
Now the party is relying on Sonia’s crowd-pulling capacity. “She is a unifying force and people identify her as one committed to the service of the people,” former APCC chief Keshava Rao said.
The state Congress has been attacking Chiranjeevi from some time, in some cases even making personal attacks — his daughter’s marriage, his brother’s family life and irregularities at the blood and eye banks run by him.
“Chiranjeevi may be popular but does not have a political ideology of his own. He was not able to convince people as what his approach will be,” Vundavalli Arun Kumar, senior party MP and permanent invitee to CWC, said.
Such is the sensation created by Chiranjeevi’s party that the Congress, which earlier said the Telugu Desam Party remained its main rival, is now stating that it has to be seen as who will be its prime target in the elections.