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Chiranjeevi launches ‘Praja Rajyam’

Andhra Pradesh Bureau

Says his party will be committed to socialism and empowerment of the poor and downtrodden


Announces support for Telangana

To oppose political corruption


— PHOTOS: P.V. SIVAKUMAR

OVERWHELMING SUPPORT: Telugu film star Chiranjeevi addresses a huge gathering of supporters on the Avilala Tank grounds in Tirupati on Tuesday.

TIRUPATI: Telugu matinee idol Chiranjeevi launched his political party ‘Praja Rajyam’ with a bang at this temple town on Tuesday and declared that it will be committed to socialism and empowerment of the poor and downtrodden.

The film star, who announced his entry into politics on August 17, unveiled an agenda tilted as much towards the middle class as to the poor. He expressed a firm resolve to fight political corruption “at the top” as it was the fountainhead of graft.

Mr. Chiranjeevi launched his party at a mammoth public meeting on the Avilala Tank grounds, venue of the 1992 AICC plenary, which was thronged by frenzied fans and followers who arrived in thousands of vehicles and 18 special trains, throwing normal life out of gear in the vicinity. Amid thunderous cheers, he asked a physically challenged youth to unveil the party’s white and green flag with a blazing red sun adorning the centre.

In his two-hour-long speech, Mr. Chiranjeevi touched upon almost all major issues confronting the State, from the agrarian crisis and farmers’ suicides to naxalism and the demand for a separate Telangana. The party, he said, would make ‘a scientific assessment’ of various sensitive issues, including categorisation of the Scheduled Castes, and consult intellectuals before arriving at a decision.

The actor was forthcoming on the separate Telangana issue, stating that his party would respect the feeling of discrimination among the people and recognise the need to protect their ‘self-respect.’ “Yet, if people concluded that parting between the brothers was inevitable, we will assist in their amicable separation,” he said.

Asserting that his party would be progressive, democratic and not individual-centric, Mr. Chiranjeevi declared that he would oppose corruption in major irrigation projects, forcible acquisition of fertile land for Special Economic Zones and unregulated sale of liquor. He, however, qualified these by saying that he was in favour of industrialisation and strengthening of the irrigation network.

Noting that his party would recognise the economically backward in all castes as a separate entity for special treatment, he said it would support these sections in accessing good education and health care.

All alone on the stage during the entire event, which had a distinct cinematic flavour, the actor, with 138 films behind him, said: “I am your servant and not your leader.”

Referring to his humble background — of hailing from a lower middle class family — Mr. Chiranjeevi told the surging crowds: “My parents looked after me for 22 years, but you have been carrying me for 30 years on your shoulders. Therefore, I wanted to play a bigger role in ushering a change in your lives.”

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