Why is the BJP closing up to Tollywood stars?

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Raju was a BJP MP who was responsible for moving important bills like the Prohibition of Cow Slaughter Bill, 2000. This had been considered a personal project that the then MP and now UP Chief Minister, Yogi Adityanath, had been wanting to pursue. Raju was also a Union Minister in Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s government.

Defence Minister Rajnath Singh is expected to attend a condolence meeting in Hyderabad for the legendary Telugu actor, UV Krishnam Raju, who died last Sunday. During the trip, Rajnath Singh is also likely to meet Prabhas, who is the famous nephew of the actor who died.

Opportunity in Crisis?

Raju’s condolence meet seems to have provided the BJP with an opportunity to connect with superstar Prabhas, who boasts of a humongous fan base in the two Telugu-speaking states—Andhra Pradesh and Telangana.

In 2015, Raju tried to get Prabhas involved with the BJP by taking him to New Delhi to meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi. However, since then, Prabhas has stayed away from politics.

However, Prabhas is not the first actor the BJP has tried to reach out to in the past few days. Home Minister Amit Shah met with Telugu film star Jr. NTR on August 21, during his day-long visit to Hyderabad.

Jr. NTR is the grandson of the Telugu Desam Party (TDP) founder NT Rama Rao and is popular for having starred in the Magnum Opus RRR.

Banking on the Superstars

One of the highest-paid actors in the Indian film industry, Prabhas belongs to the powerful Kshatriya community. Given the huge popularity of the actor and his projection as a “caste icon” by his fans, this could prove to be extremely beneficial for the BJP.

The Kshatriya community is not known to lean towards any particular political party, but the BJP can leverage this support if they can convince Prabhas to hop on their bandwagon.

On the other hand, Jr. NTR belongs to the popular Kamma community, which has been the traditional backer of the TDP. With many of his fans promoting him as a “caste icon,” the BJP may be able to reach out to two of the most powerful communities in the Telugu-speaking states of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana.

Jr. NTR’s father, N Harikrishna, was a TDP MLA and Rajya Sabha member. Back in 2009, he also campaigned for the TDP, founded by his grandfather, but has steered clear of politics since then.

Currently, the BJP holds an alliance with actor-politician K Pawan Kalyan’s party, Jana Sena Party (JSP). If the BJP is further successful in bringing the star duo on board, it could massively boost their political fortunes in the Assembly elections of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana in 2023 and 2024, respectively.

This is not the first time that the BJP is seeking to leverage support from an actor’s massive stardom and fanbase. Back in 2014, Narendra Modi famously flew kites with actor Salman Khan on Makar Sankranti.

Political Ventures of Tollywood Actors

Except for NT Rama Rao, who founded TDP and went on to become the chief minister of the state, the many political ventures of other Tollywood actors have failed to yield many results and have been politically and electorally inconsequential.

Megastar K Chiranjeevi’s Praja Rajyam Party (PRP) tried to mobilize the support of its leader’s influential Kapu community. In the 2008 Assembly elections, Chiranjeevi’s party won 18 out of 294 seats in undivided Andhra Pradesh.

However, the party eventually folded up and merged with Congress.

The JSP, founded by Pawan Kalyan, who happens to be Chiranjeevi’s brother, managed to win only one seat in the 2019 Andhra Assembly polls. In the 2014 assembly elections, he campaigned for the BJP-TDP alliance, which provided the push needed for TDP as the party won a slender majority in the 2014 assembly elections.

Firebrand actress S Vijayshanti had floated the Talli Telangana Party (TTP), which later folded up. Since then, she has been making political somersaults from the BJP to the TRS to Congress and finally back to the BJP now.

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