Vijayashanti Congress BJP TRS Actress
Congress leader and popular South Indian actress Vijayashanthi likely to join BJP. Photo: PTI File

'Lady Amitabh' Vijayashanti may leave Congress and join BJP again

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Firebrand Congress leader and popular yesteryear South Indian actress, Vijayashanti is set to gravitate towards the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) again.

Over her two decade long political career, Vijayashanti, known in film circles as “Lady Amitabh” for her action-packed roles, will come a full circle as she had started out with the saffron party in 1997.

As the chairperson of the state Congress campaign committee, she was the star campaigner for the party in the December 2018 Assembly elections in Telangana. However, the Congress failed miserably at the hustings.

Miffed with leadership

The tough-talking gutsy star is miffed with the state Congress leadership for “trying to create circumstances for her to leave the party”.

A source close to the 53-year-old actor-turned-politician said that she would take a decision on her political future at “an appropriate time after consulting her followers and fans”.

“There is a vicious campaign being spread against her by some vested interests within the Congress. Apparently, they do not want me to continue in the party. Unfortunately, the state party leadership is also silent on these malicious campaign,” Vijayashanti said in a statement.

This has triggered speculation about her leaving the party.

After the party’s disastrous performance in the Assembly polls, she has been keeping herself away from the party activities. “She is not even being invited for the party’s core committee meetings,” said one of her close aides.

He claimed that the BJP leaders were in touch with her. “Vijayashanti has a good rapport with the BJP leaders over the last two decades irrespective of her political affiliations,” the source claimed.

Political somersaults 

After experimenting with her own party “Telangana Talli” for a brief period, she merged the outfit with the Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS). Following differences with the party leadership, the former Medak MP joined Congress in February 2014 and unsuccessfully contested from Medak assembly constituency on a Congress ticket.

After a nearly three-year long political hibernation, she resurfaced in November 2017 and vowed to work for the success of the Congress.

She began her political career with the BJP in 1997 and served as General Secretary of the party’s women wing. In the 1999 general elections, she was named BJP’s candidate from the Kadapa Lok Sabha to be pitted against the then-Congress president Sonia Gandhi. However, she withdrew from the race after Sonia decided to contest from Bellary in Karnataka.

She quit the BJP in 2005 at the height of the agitation for a separate Telangana state and floated her own party “Talli Telangana” to fight for the statehood cause. However, she merged her party with the TRS and was elected to Lok Sabha from Medak in 2009.

When it became clear that the party was not keen on fielding her from the constituency for a second time, Vijayashanti developed differences with the TRS leadership. Subsequently, she was suspended from the party for ‘anti-party activities’ and later joined the Congress in February 2014.

Meteoric rise

Vijayashanti began her acting career in 1980 at the age of 14 with a Tamil film Kallukkul Eeram directed by Bharatiraja. In the same year, she debuted in Telugu cinema with the movie Kilaadi Krishnudu, opposite leading star Krishna, directed by his wife Vijaya Nirmala.

Her breakthrough movie was Neti Bharatham in 1983 which started a new trend of women-centric action movies in Telugu. Teaming up with the director T Krishna, she appeared in a string of such movies including Pratighatana in 1985 which was a blockbuster and earned her the state Nandi award.

Vijayashanti’s biggest hit Kartavyam was based on the real life journey of super cop Kiran Bedi. The film was screened at the 14th International Film Festival of India in the mainstream section. It was dubbed into Tamil as Vyjanthi IPS and remade in Hindi as Tejaswini.

After a gap of 13 years, she has donned the greasepaint again and is all set for a comeback with a pivotal role alongside the reigning Telugu star Mahesh Babu in the forthcoming movie Sarileru Neekevvaru.

“I am elated about returning to Telugu cinema after a log gap. I was approached with several offers but nothing truly excited me until Anil Ravipudi (director of the movie) came along with this script. I agreed to come on board,” said Vijayashanti who had won national best actress award for her role as a ‘super cop’ in the 1990 film Kartavyam.

In a career spanning nearly three decades, she acted in over 180 films in Telugu, Tamil, Kannada, Malayalam and Hindi and won several state level awards. Most of her successful movies revolved around women’s issues where she plays the fiercely independent protagonist. She is probably the first actress in the Telugu film industry to be referred as superstar, a title that has been the sole preserve of the male actors. She never relied on dupes for performing risky stunts in the action movies.

“My last film was in 2006 (Nayudamma). I am returning to the industry at a time when the social media is re-writing the rules of the game. I need to get used to it. I have seen both stardom and failures in my three decade long career,” she says. She was a co-star of several leading South Indian stars including Chiranjeevi, Balakrishna, Kamal Haasan, Rajinikanth and Suresh Gopi.

The actress took to twitter to clarify that she is not quitting politics altogether. “My return to the Tollywood doesn’t mean that I will quit politics permanently. I had this movie offer on hand much before the assembly elections (December 2018). Since the Congress party entrusted me with the responsibility of heading the campaign committee, I had decided to fulfil that commitment before donning the greasepaint again,” she tweeted.

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