Actors G. Rajendra Prasad and Sivaji Raja were on Friday declared elected as President and General Secretary of the Movie Artists Association (MAA), bringing to an end weeks-long high-voltage campaign that made the MAA office-bearers election look more like a general election.
Around noon, Returning Officer Krishnamohan declared that Mr. Rajendra Prasad had won as President with a majority of 85 votes, securing 237 votes, against his rival Jayasudha who got 152 votes. Third down the line, was a little known personality Radhakrishna, who got only five votes. Actor Sivaji Raja garnered 216 votes, racing past his rival, actor Ali who got 182 votes.
Only 394 of the total membership of 702 turned up to cast their vote on March 29, for the posts of president, general-secretary, executive vice-president, treasurer, two joint secretaries and 18 executive committee members. Before the day of the elections, actor Mohan Babu’s daughter Manchu Lakshmi and actor Sivakrishna were elected unanimously, as vice-presidents.
On Friday, counting was taken up after the Court dismissed a petition by O. Kalyan, who alleged irregularities in the process, and gave the go-ahead for counting and declaration of results. The area around the Film Chamber was full of people, including curious on-lookers wishing to have a look at the stars and police put in place a heavy bandobust.
Even as counting was going on, a band played live music, including the ‘teen maar’, percussion typical of Hyderabad. After Rajendra Prasad was declared elected, he flanked by his supporters, including Sivaji Raja addressed the motley crowd saying he would take up the responsibility seriously and work for the welfare of the film community, particularly those who were less privileged than the more successful ones.
Ms. Jayasudha was the first woman to contest for MAA presidency, thus far and supported by M. Murali Mohan, three-time president. Mr. Rajendra Prasad on the other hand was backed by K. Nagendra Banu, brother of star-turned-politician, Rajya Sabha Member K. Chiranjeevi. Interestingly, Mr. Murali Mohan had, seven years ago, defeated Mr. Rajendra Prasad.
Several factors, including political, went into the MAA elections this time. Members were divided into two camps representing Mr. Murali Mohan and Mr. Chiranjeevi. Caste and regional affiliations, the latter arising out of bifurcation of erstwhile Andhra Pradesh, added new dimensions, making it look more like a typical general elections.