HYDERABAD: The election for the Movie Artistes’ Association (MAA) president has turned ugly with contenders for the coveted post, veteran actor Rajendra Prasad and actress Jayasudha, getting into a filmy style slanging match.
Playing the hero battling against all odds to the hilt, Quick Gun Murugan Rajendra Prasad on Wednesday accused Sahaja Nati Jayasudha of politicising the election — an allegation she had levelled against him just a day earlier.
The comedy hero’s outburst came hours after two members on his panel, actors Sivaji Raja and Uttej, withdrew their nominations for the general secretary and joint secretary posts respectively. Putting up a brave face, Rajendra Prasad accused the outgoing office-bearers of having little regard for poor artistes and announced a slew of promises including `5-crore corpus, free health insurance and the best-ever film industry building in the country for Tollywood.
“This election will be a battle of principles. Every artiste has ups and downs. That is why there is an association to help them. I treat all artistes as Gods,” he said.
The election has divided Tollywood like never before with actor-turned-politician Chiranjeevi’s brother Nagababu extending his support to Rajendra Prasad and TDP MP and incumbent MAA president Murali Mohan, veteran actor Mohan Babu’s camp and veteran director Dasari Narayana Rao standing solidly behind Jayasudha. It’s no secret that Mohan Babu and Rao have been a thorn in Chiru’s flesh.
“Murali Mohan earlier told me Rajendra Prasad would not be contesting. But when I found out that he is, I offered my support to him. Murali Mohan told me not to support Rajendra Prasad. When I went ahead anyway, Rajendra Prasad was all set to be elected unopposed but Murali Mohan decided to bring in Jayasudha at the last minute,” Nagababu alleged. Even though Sivaji Raja withdrew his nomination, he affirmed his support to Rajendra Prasad and alleged the elections were being conducted in an unfair manner. “The election commissioner is Murali Mohan’s lawyer. So, there is a clear conflict of interest here. The assistant commissioner is also a member of MAA. How have they been appointed to oversee the elections?” he questioned. Raja, who served as treasurer in the Murali Mohan regime, said he was ‘disgusted’ with the selfishness of the office-bearers.
Earlier, Jayasudha fired the first salvo, accusing her co-star in a few films, of ‘ruining’ the elections by involving political leaders — apparently hinting at Chiru. In a dramatic way, she alleged Rajendra Prasad had been distributing mobile phones to artistes in a ‘cheap and desperate’ attempt to gain votes.
Refuting her allegations, Prasad wondered, “Who in these days has no mobile phone? Are our artistes in such a pathetic condition that they had to be bribed this way?” He also questioned why Jayasudha was allowed to run for the post. “We were clearly instructed to file our nomination papers in person, which is why I came here and filed in front of the election commissioner. Jayasudha did not even turn up and someone else filed her nomination. Why is she being given special treatment?,” he fumed.
I came to know that Rajendra Prasad has approached a politician seeking his support. What is the need to rope in political leaders?
I want to prove women are equally capable of holding this post. I came to know that some politicians, who do not want a woman to take charge of MAA, are interfering. They are using strong-arm tactics and even distributing mobile phones to gain votes
It’s ridiculous to say I do not want a woman to take charge
I pity them. Madam is a former MLA and Murali Mohan is an MP. Why do I need to politicise this when it is they who have brought the stink of politics into the elections? Supposing we distributed mobile phones... are our artistes in such a pathetic condition that they need to be bribed this way! They are making this kind of allegations as they don’t have faith in themselves
— Rajendra Prasad