Political Pickle

Will `NTR’ be a hit?

Nandamuri Balakrishna is once again banking on NTR. But no he is not talking of NTR, the film but NTR, the legend.

Though the two-part biopic `NTR’ in which he played the role of his father, did not do too well at the box-office, supporters of Balakrishna who is contesting from Hindupur assembly constituency feels, his father’s legacy will be a hit at the EVM. 

Hindupur is a high profile constituency and since 1985, has been won without a break by the TDP. NT Rama Rao won from this seat three times – in 1985, 1989 and 1994. In fact, even when he lost from Kalwakuruthy in 1989, Hindupur enabled him to be part of the Andhra Pradesh assembly.
Thereafter his son, Nandamuri Harikrishna was elected from Hindupur in 1996 and then Balakrishna in 2014.

Most analysts expected this election to be very difficult for Balakrishna. There were allegations that he had neglected Hindupur, outsourcing all work to a couple of his representatives who were perceived as haughty. The actor did not even visit Hindupur too often, busy as he was with his movies. 

To top that videos of Balayya, as he is called by his admirers and fans, abusing and even assaulting people had gone viral this election season. 

Making matters difficult for Balakrishna, the YSRCP mounted a credible challenge in the form of Mohammed Iqbal, a retired IPS officer who was interestingly chief security officer to Chandrababu Naidu between 1995 and 2000. 

Iqbal is banking on a wave for the YSRCP in the Rayalaseema region though Anantapur district where Hindupur is located is considered a TDP stronghold. 

Mohammed Iqbal of the YSRCP

So why is Balakrishna banking on NTR? Psephologist Venugopala Rao of the CPS says the NTR legacy in Hindupur cannot be discounted even more than two decades after he passed away. It is a bit like people in rural Tamil Nadu voting for the two leaves symbol of the AIADMK, just because it was chosen by MGR. 

But Iqbal remains supremely confident that he will score an upset victory over Balakrishna and end the TDP domination of Hindupur. And given Iqbal’s profile, it is quite possible that if he proves to be a giant-killer in Hindupur, he may land himself a plum position in Amaravati.

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