In the last couple of years, Telugu actor Sivaji has been in the news less for his film roles and more for his political views. He has emerged as a vocal supporter of chief minister Chandrababu Naidu from within the Telugu film industry, even going to the extent of suggesting that a major conspiracy was afoot to create problems for the Telugu Desam supremo. Sivaji claimed that `Operation Garuda’ had been planned by powers-that-be in Delhi to help certain political leaders in Andhra Pradesh, at Naidu’s expense.
Sivaji was travelling towards Vijayawada when T S Sudhir of UmaSudhir.com spoke to him for this exclusive chat.
Q. You have been supporting Chandrababu Naidu rather vociferously. But unlike in 2014, this time he does not have any alliance partners like the BJP and Jana Sena and the opposition YSR Congress is gaining in strength. It looks tough for Naidu this time.
Sivaji : I support Chandrababu Naidu because he is a visionary leader. He did so much this particular term, has remained with the people. He is building a world-class capital city. In fact, I am going to show about the capital to the world in about a week.
On the other hand, Jaganmohan Reddy has no experience or profile. He has CBI chargesheets against him, how can such a person become the chief minister of Andhra Pradesh? Is it just because he is the son of the former chief minister? I ask you, can Sachin Tendulkar’s son automatically become captain of the Indian team?
Q. But Jaganmohan Reddy has gained experience as a political leader, he has walked 3600 km from Kadapa to Srikakulam, has understood the problems of the people of Andhra Pradesh. Surely you cannot keep harping on the fact that he has no administrative experience because the fact is that he has never been in government.
Sivaji : The problem is what he will do. He and K Chandrasekhar Rao are great friends now. KCR is trying to create hurdles for Polavaram project. He is also trying to prevent water to the parched Rayalaseema region. Jagan is only interested in getting rid of his cases. Trust me, if YSR Congress comes to power here and Narendra Modi wins in Delhi, Jagan will merge his party with the BJP. I am very clear, I do not want Jagan as chief minister of Andhra Pradesh, I am even okay with Pawan Kalyan as CM.
Q. Really? You are saying Pawan will be a better CM than Jagan, even though to use your own argument, even Pawan has no administrative experience.
Sivaji : Compared to Naidu, Pawan Kalyan is not great. But at least, there are no allegations of corruption against him. He is a fair guy but yes, I agree he has no experience. So he could be a bet next time in 2024. He is not a bad guy but then this is not the movies field.
Q. What you are saying fits in with the YSR Congress narrative that a vote for the Jana Sena is a vote for the TDP.
Sivaji : Let me ask a counter question. I allege that the three of them, the YSR Congress, KCR and BJP are in league with each other. Do you accept that charge? If not, it is the same here. There is no understanding at all between Naidu and Pawan Kalyan, between the TDP and Jana Sena.
Q. So far the opinion polls predict that the YSR Congress will do very well and Jagan could be the next CM of Andhra Pradesh.
Sivaji : In my opinion, the neutral educated voter who is not swayed by caste affiliations or loyalty to either of the three parties, will decide this election. This voter is going to be very important in this election because Andhra Pradesh is fragmented on caste lines between the three parties. As far as opinion polls are concerned, it is always tough to predict in a triangular contest. When two parties are targeting one leader, there emerges a silent support base for him.
Q. You had gone to town with your conspiracy theories on `Operation Garuda’. Is that chapter over?
Sivaji : Till today, they are working on it. The Operation was successful from their point of view, not from the public point of view.
Categories: Andhra Pradesh