Tollywood actor Manchu Vishnu, son of senior actor Mohan Babu, was elected as the new president of the Movie Artists Association (MAA), defeating Prakash Raj by a huge margin of 106 votes, after a bitter and heated campaign for the polls. Ending a day-long suspense, MAA election officer Krishna Mohan announced the poll results on Sunday night after the polling. Vishnu polled 380 votes while Prakash Raj, who was branded as non-local by some supporters of the rival panel, secured 274 votes. Prakash Raj is a native of Karnataka and predominantly acts in Telugu and other south Indian films.
The newly elected panel now consists of members from both the contesting groups. While Vishnu has been elected the president, Srikanth (from Prakash Raj panel) is the executive vice president. Madala Ravi is the vice president, while Raghu Babu is the general secretary. Uttej and Gowtham Raj were elected as joint secretaries, while Siva Balaji was voted in as the treasurer. The election was seen as a tussle between the families of megastar Chiranjeevi and veteran actor Mohan Babu. Chiranjeevi's family backed Prakash Raj while Mohan Babu actively campaigned for his son Manchu Vishnu.
According to the election officer, 68% polling was recorded, which was the highest in the history of the MAA. Out of 925 members of the MAA, 883 were eligible to cast their votes, of which 605 members have turned up to vote for the 26-member body comprising the President, two Vice Presidents, Executive Vice President, General Secretary, two Joint Secretaries, Treasurer and 18 Executive Committee members.
The polling which began at 8 am at Jubilee Hills Public School was peaceful barring minor clashes between the two rival groups. The polling, which was to end at 2 pm was extended by an hour by election officer Krishna Mohan. The counting of votes began after 4 pm. The first result went in favor of the Prakash Raj panel when Shia Reddy was elected as an executive member. This was followed by three more victories for the panel as Anasuya, Kaushik, and Suresh Kondeti were also elected as executive members. From the Vishnu panel, Poojitha, Shashank, Jayavani, UP Srinivasulu, Srilakshmi, Manik, Harinath Babu, and Vishnu Boppana were elected as executive members.
Chiranjeevi, leading actors Pawan Kalyan, Nandamuri Balakrishna, and Nagarjuna were among the prominent personalities of Tollywood who cast their votes. Murali Mohan, Mohan Babu, Jaya Prada, Rajendra Prasad, Roja, Babu Mohan, Naga Babu and other prominent people also came to vote.
After a bitter campaign between the rival panels, scenes of camaraderie were witnessed after the announcement of the results. The two actors, battling for the post of MAA President, shook hands and embraced each other to declare that they are all one. Prakash Raj also shook hands with Mohan Babu and took his blessings. Mohan Babu had arrived early at the polling booth to bless his son Vishnu and claimed that the panel enjoyed support from the majority of voters.
Actor-politician Pawan Kalyan was one of the first people to cast his votes. Talking to reporters, the Jana Sena president declined to name the panel he voted for, saying this would amount to influencing voters. He said MAA elections would have no bearing on the friendship between his brother Chiranjeevi and Mohan Babu. Pawan said the film industry will not split due to MAA polls.
Chiranjeevi's other brother Naga Babu, however, told reporters that he cast his vote for the Prakash Raj panel. Leading actor Balakrishna told reporters after casting his vote that Prakash Raj and Vishnu are like brothers. The actor-politician, who had earlier declared his support to Vishnu, said he voted for those who will do better. Veteran actor Jaya Prada also cast her vote. Mohan Babu said she flew in from Delhi at his request to participate in the voting.
Genelia, who had been staying away from Telugu films following her marriage to Bollywood actor Ritesh Deshmukh, also came to Hyderabad to cast her vote as she is a good friend of Manchu Vishnu, having acted with him in the hit movie Dhee in the past.
(With IANS inputs)