With the upcoming bye-election for the Nandyal constituency in Andhra's Kurnool district heating up, the ruling TDP party in the state roped in Hindpur MLA and Tollywood actor Nandamuri Balakrishna for the campaign on Wednesday.
Addressing a large crowd from atop a bus, as part of a roadshow, Balakrishna appealed to the voters to support the TDP, if they wanted to witness 'development' in Nandyal.
Extending support to Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu, he spoke about how his father, former CM and TDP founder N T Rama Rao had established the party for the welfare of the people.
He was flanked by TDP candidate Bhuma Brahmananda Reddy and Andhra Tourism Minister Bhuma Akhila Priya, who is the former's cousin.
"We must help Brahmananda Reddy win with a big majority and the TDP must rule Nandyal," he appealed to voters, highlighting other measures that the party had taken over its 3-year rule.
He also lashed out at YSRCP candidate Silpa Mohan Reddy and his brother Silpa Chakrapani Reddy, who recently gave up his MLC seat with the TDP, and defected to the YSRCP to campaign for his brother.
Stating that the two brothers changed party for their own benefits, he said, "We must teach these people a lesson", amidst a roar of applause.
The TDP has already had actors Venu and Vijayachander campaign for them.
This comes just one day after YSRCP President YS Jaganmohan Reddy lashed out at CM Naidu on Tuesday, accusing him of dropping the demand for the Special Category Status (SCS) to the state, after "being caught red-handed in the cash-for-vote scam" in Telangana.
"When Naidu and the TDP men come to bribe you with Rs 5,000 per vote and force you to swear on God's picture that you will vote for TDP, I request you at that moment to stand on the right side of 'dharma'," Jagan told a crowd that had gathered at Moolsagaram.
This came after Jagan's comments that Naidu should be 'shot' and 'hung', which was followed by a notice from the Election Commission.
Speaking at a gathering on Tuesday, Naidu also hit back at Jagan, saying, "I have seen many politicians in my career, but never one like this (Jagan). His own father could not tolerate him, and sent him to Bengaluru."
Naidu was hinting at a massive bungalow that Jagan and his family owned in Bengaluru, where he lived and worked for a short period when his father YS Rajasekhara Reddy was the CM.
"Dignity, discipline and decorum are important in politics because as leaders we are setting an example for our future generations to follow," he added.
The by-election in Nandyal is necessitated by the death of the sitting legislator Bhuma Nagi Reddy, one of those who defected to the TDP. His daughter Akhila Priya, who too won as a YSRCP candidate from Allagadda constituency in the same district, is now a Cabinet Minister.
The Nandyal bye-poll is due to be held on August 23.
Both the parties have made the by-election a prestige issue as it is being seen as a referendum on the three-year rule of the TDP. It is also expected to indicate which way the wind was blowing in the run-up to the 2019 elections.
The Election Commission said that Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPATs) will be used in the bye-elections in all the polling stations.
(With IANS inputs)