The successful road shows of actor NTR Junior in the coastal districts of Vizianagaram and Srikakulam have forced political parties to do a rethink: will the crowds vote for the party being represented by the film stars,or are they mere spectators?
The question has become pertinent to the Telugu Desam and Praja Rajyam. Both have launched high-pitched star-studded campaigns and are banking heavily on film stars to woo voters. The problem is every film star is receiving the same kind of rousing reception,making it difficult for political parties to work out if the numbers at rallies would translate into votes.
Before NTR Junior was launched into the campaign by the TDP,the focus was on Pavan Kalyan,film star brother of PRP president Chiranjeevi,who is receiving similar reception as NTR Junior. Chiranjeevi himself attracts massive,unmanageable crowds. N Balakrishna,another highly popular actor,is campaigning on behalf of the TDP and is drawing huge crowds too. The Congress is leaning on actress Jayasudha to do the trick.
But NTR Juniors road shows jolted the PRP which was smug in believing that the turnout of crowds meant soaring popularity of the party which would bring in votes.
It was C Hariram Jogaiah,a Congress MP who quit and joined PRP,who first raised this issue. In a letter to Chiranjeevi,he wondered if the huge crowds were merely coming to see their favourite matinee idols or would also vote for them.
The calculations are all upset now. Everyone is wondering if leaving the campaigning to film stars only is really beneficial to the party or not. Except for Chiranjeevi no one knows who the other political leaders in the party are. The success of road shows and public meetings is creating a false sense of confidence that we will perform well, a PRP leader says.
TDP spokesperson N Rajakumari feels these crowds may not necessarily translate into votes. Crowd-pulling power of other actors is good but whether it brings votes or not is not sure. We are gauging the response to NTR Juniors road shows. We are banking on him because there are indications that he might convert a large number of votes to the TDP. He reminds people of the late NTR with his powerful dialogue delivery,actions and movements, Rajakumari says.
The TDP is devising a strategy to follow up road shows and public meetings of film stars with political leaders. The PRP has no such option with Chiranjeevi being the only visible leader. PRPs chief spokesperson Dr P Mitra Reddy is stumped by the question. At least some people who attend these shows will vote,I hope. There is enough for everyone in this, he adds.
When Chiranjeevi started his road shows last October,he kicked off a frenzy. His brothers Pavan Kalyan and Nagendra Babu joined him soon. The roaring success of these road shows with lakhs of delirious fans in attendance caused ripples in the Congress and TDP. This prompted TDPs N Chandrababu Naidu to rebuild bridges with the NTR clan,which is packed with popular film stars,and convince them to campaign for the TDP. The Congress roped in actress Jayasudha and actor couple Rajasekhar and Jeevitha and,lately,former Indian cricket captain Mohammed Azharuddin.