Vijayashanti was among the first women superstars of the south who played the solo lead in films. Although she acted with many male superstars like Rajinikanth, Chiranjeevi, and Balakrishna, she also carved a niche for herself playing the role of a police officer in several films. She was dubbed 'Lady Amitabh' due to her penchant for playing angry roles and superstardom. Her biggest hit in a cop role was the Telugu action film Kartavyam, which was dubbed in Tamil as Vyjayanthi IPS, which was supposedly inspired by the life of Kiran Bedi, India's first woman IPS officer.
Though Vijayashanthi was a force to reckon with in the world of cinema, her career in politics was not the blockbuster that one would have expected.
After a gap of four years, Vijayashanti, who had remained inactive in politics after unsuccessfully contesting from Medak Assembly constituency in 2014, will be campaigning for the Congress.
Handpicked by Rahul Gandhi to head the Congress campaign, the former actor will make efforts to dethrone TRS leader K Chandrasekhar Rao.
After her iconic stint as a film star, she joined politics and supported the cause of Telangana through her partyâ€”Talli Telangana--which no longer exists.
In 2009, she merged Talli Telangana with Telangana Rashtra Samithi and won as the MP of Medak. However, quoting differences with TRS chief KCR, she quit the party in 2014 and joined the Congress. But after losing the 2014 assembly elections, she remained away from public life and was inactive in politics.
Despite this, Congress President, Rahul Gandhi has put in his faith on her as their crowd puller against KCR, who will be leading TRS from the front.
The Mahakootami or grand alliance comprising of the Congress-TDP-TJS-CPI hasn't kicked off their election campaign yet owing to negotiation issues.
A few critics have pointed out that choosing Vijayashanti who has not been in active politics for a few years, was unwise of the Congress. But there are also political experts who believe that Vijayashanti as the star campaigner could do considerable damage to the TRS.
They point out that other than Revanth Reddy, Vijayashanti is the only crowd puller for the Congress.
â€śVijayashanti being a star from the film industry, is definitely a crowd puller. It was a right decision by the Congress. It was just what the party needed--a crowd puller,â€ť says senior political analyst, Telakapalli Ravi.
Ravi says that irrespective of Vijayashanti being inactive in politics and away from public life, she still would be crucial in mobilizing crowds. â€śThe glamour quotient will always be there. It doesnâ€™t fade easily," he says.
The TRS however has dismissed Vijayashanti's return as an insignificant political event that cannot create a dent in their votebank.
Another political expert, Thunga Lakshminarayana says, â€śVijayashanti is a political leader, who has toured the state, has spoken to people on the ground. She headed a party too. Apart from being a former actor, which has the perks of bringing the crowds, she also knows the issues. One should not underestimate her.â€ť
Lakshminarayana adds, â€śIn many tribal areas, the residents are not aware of the issues. If Vijayashanti is going to visit these areas, certainly they would come in large numbers. If the Congress is able to carry their message through her and address the ground realities and point out the flaws of TRS, then the campaign will definitely succeed.â€ť
Many believe that Kodanadaram and Vijayashanti will be the trump cards for the grand alliance that is devoid of popular faces in many crucial areas
â€śSince she has a rivalry with TRS and KCR, Vijayashanti will definitely attack KCR in a strong manner. Apart from Vijayashanti, Kodandaram from the Telangana Jana Samithi will also come down heavily on the TRS, it is essential for his political survival. If Vijayashanti campaigns for the Mahakootami, then their campaign would be quite strong," says Lakshminarayana.
Political analyst Palwai Raghavendra Reddy believes Vijayashanti's decision to not contest in the elections would also help the alliance
â€śThe actor took a wise decision of not contesting in the elections. This wonâ€™t add to the confusion that already prevails in the Mahakootami. The TRS may ask the voter that how can a leader who didnâ€™t speak for them for these many years suddenly champion their cause. But the public will definitely come to her rallies, film stars always have that capability,â€ť says Palwai Raghavendra Reddy.