HYDERABAD: The much-publicised Movie Artistes Association (MAA) presidential election between panels of veteran actor Rajendra Prasad and ‘Sahaja Nati’ Jayasudha was finally held here on Sunday amid final round of slanging match between the members of the two panels.
Interestingly, the bitterly-fought election witnessed a poor turnout. Of the total 702 electors, only 394 members exercised their franchise.
Probably, as MAA election issue courted controversy, some of the Telugu tinsel town’s superstars such as Nagarjuna, Pawan Kalyan, Mahesh Babu and NTR Jr were nowhere to be seen on the D-Day, which made them invite the wrath of the outgoing MAA president Murali Mohan.
When asked about the absence of the big stars on the hotly contested polls, actor-turned-politico Murali Mohan sarcastically remarked, “They have come down from the skies. They think that they are all demigods. Why will they come to mingle with mere mortals like us?”
Despite the no-show by the superstars, Murali Mohan, who had been strongly campaigning for Jayasudha till the other day, was pleased with the turnout.
“It has been the highest-ever turnout at MAA elections, so we are very pleased with it,” the veteran actor told Express.
Even as the elections were marred by controversies, Murali Mohan assured that everything would be sorted out after the election. When asked about who would succeed him as MAA’s next president, the actor said it was too close a call.
“Unlike at general election, there are no exit polls here. So there is no way we can tell who will win until the results are announced,” he quipped.
Earlier, the polling went on quite peacefully. Nandamuri Balakrishna, Krishna, Kota Srinivas Rao, actor-producer Lakshmi Manchu and YSRC MLA Roja cast their vote on Sunday.
Balakrishna, who is also a TDP MLA, said the new MAA president should develop the industry both in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, and help the poor artistes in the industry. When asked about the various controversies surrounding the election, he said, “All the veterans of the industry will sit together and bridge the gap.”
Meanwhile, actor-politician Roja lamented the fact that politics has entered the election to the association of artistes. “Earlier we used to choose a candidate unanimously and vote for them. It is sad to see artistes being divided in groups because of the backing of some leaders. MAA elections are being fought like the general election, which is unfortunate,” she said.
Despite taking potshots at each other in the run-up to the election, top contenders Jayasudha and Rajendra Prasad came face to face with each other and even indulged in some friendly banter. Both candidates presented a cool and confident demeanour and request all members to cast their vote.
Meanwhile Sivaji Raja, who dramatically decided to step down from contesting as general secretary, had a change of mind at the last minute and decided to contest on behalf of Rajendra Prasad’s panel.
The build-up to polls has been politicised like never before with the presidential candidates, Jayasudha and Rajendra Prasad, flinging allegations on one another. With politicians entering the fray, things got heated up between both groups right till the polling, making it the most eagerly-awaited MAA elections in a long time.
Battle Gets Murkier
Even as the polling went on smoothly on Sunday, members of the panels of Jayasudha and Rajendra Prasad continued to take potshots at each other till the very last minute. Things got ugly between Hema (Jayasudha’s panel) and Sivaji Raja (Rajendra Prasad’s panel). It all started when Hema accused Raja of promising to help poor artistes without taking care of his own family members. Raja retorted by appealing to Hema to desist from making personal remarks and called her a “rusty old engine”. An infuriated Hema then lodged an official complaint against Raja with the Banjara Hills police station on Saturday. “Is this the way to speak about a woman? I just said that he should first feed his own parents and then come to our homes but he responded in such a demeaning manner. When I told Rajendra Prasad about this, he just sat in his car and drove away,” fumed Hema. A determined Hema vowed not to rest until she got justice. “If required, I will sit in front of Pawan Kalyan’s house on a dharna till I get justice,” she thundered.
Results Not Now
The results of the polls will be withheld as per a city civil court’s order. The next hearing of the case is on Tuesday.