It is just eight months since he floated his political party but Telugu megastar Chiranjeevi is very confident of winning the Andhra Pradesh assembly polls, being held along with the Lok Sabha elections April 16 and 23, and promises he will bring ‘a change’ in the state.
‘We will definitely get a number with which we can form government. I am confident,’ the 53-year-old Chiranjeevi told IANS in an exclusive interview, even rubbishing prospects of a hung assembly.
‘As of today I don’t entertain that kind of thought (of a hung assembly). I am confident that we are going to win. There is no chance of a hung assembly,’ the cine star, who launched his Praja Rajyam Party in August last year, said.
The actor, who belongs to the Kapu community, also hinted at the formation of a ‘fourth front’ with his party at the national level. ‘I think a fourth front will take shape. Some parties have already started discussing this,’ he said.
The megastar is hoping to better the record of his predecessor and matinee idol N.T. Rama Rao, who became chief minister within nine months of launching the Telugu Desam Party (TDP) in 1982. He has acted in 149 films and ruled the Telugu film industry for over two decades.
So what makes Konidela Siva Shankara Varaprasad or Chiranjeevi different from his rivals. In this exclusive interview to IANS, he spoke about his ambitions and his vision.
Q: You said you entered politics to serve the people. All parties including Congress and TDP claim they are fighting for the poor. How different are you and your party from others?
A. They may say the same dialogue but I have the sincerity. I am a white paper. I have a clean image. I want to serve the people with humility and sincerity. Politicians have made use of peoples’ votes but do not care for them. There are no roads, public transportation, health and educational facilities. They claim the state has developed but the fact is that a very pathetic situation is prevailing in the state and people are dying of hunger.
Q: How do you see your party’s prospects? How many seats is it going to win in the assembly elections?
A: We will definitely get a number with which we can form government. I am confident. (The party needs 147 seats for simple majority in the 294-member assembly). Some people have come out with fake surveys. They want to demoralise our cadres. But people have realised this and they are consolidating the Praja Rajyam Party (PRP).
Q: In the event of the elections throwing up a hung assembly, which party would you like to join hands with?
A: As of today I don’t entertain that kind of thought. I am confident that we are going to win. There is no chance of a hung assembly.
Q: You have been attracting huge crowds at every public meeting but do you think your party can convert this support into votes, and how are you going to achieve this?
A: I take the major responsibility of converting this support into votes. There are also local leaders. Our schemes and our promises will make people vote for us. For instance, we are promising a scheme under which a poor family will get a month’s ration only at Rs.100. This scheme is necessary in a state like ours where the poor are dying of starvation.
Q: By promising such schemes, do you want to become another NTR?
A: I don’t compare myself with the late NTR, but I want to give livelihood to people. He was pro-poor and people want me to substitute him and bring a change, and I will do that.
Q: The Congress government claims that it implemented several pro-people schemes during the last five years and is seeking another term on the basis of its performance. Your comment?
A: Some of these schemes were very good but behind these schemes there is corruption and commission. It is a sugar-coated poison. They are looting public money.
Q: What role do you foresee for your party at the national level. Will it join the Third Front?
A: We are concentrating on state politics. We have to work on what role we will have at the national level. I think a fourth front will take shape. Some parties have already started discussing this. As of today I don’t know which parties will come together to form such a front.
Q: Will the Third Front minus TDP become the fourth front?
A: Anything may happen.
Q: What about Sharad Pawar’s Nationalist Congress Party?
A: Mr Pawar offered his party’s symbol to us but we have other options also. There is still time and we have filed an appeal in the court seeking a common symbol for the party following the Election Commission’s refusal to grant us the same.
Chiranjeevi had wanted the symbol of the railway engine for his party, but the poll panel refused, saying it is a new party and has not fought the elections.
Though the PRP has yet to come out with an official poll manifesto, the proposals in its draft manifesto include promising free education to girls from kindergarten to post graduation level, and free education to boys and girls from poor families.
The state will hold simultaneous Lok Sabha and assembly polls on April 16 and 23.