The Tollywood Movie Artists Association (MAA) is all set to conduct elections for its official body on March 10. Shivaji Raja, the current president of the association, and Naresh, the general secretary of the association, are running a close race in the election battle, with the association divided into panels supporting each of the contenders for the position of the MAA president.
According to the panel put out by Shivaji a few days ago, actor Srikanth, who has been a long-time friend of Shivaji's, will be the executive vice-president of MAA if the latter's panel wins. Director SV Krishna Reddy, character artistes Banerjee, Rajeev Kanakala, comedian Raghu Babu, and others are in the managing committee of the panel.
On the Naresh panel, senior actor Jeevitha Rajasekhar will be contesting for the position of general secretary. The actor also has support from actor Mahesh Babu (Nareshâ€™s brother) as the panel along with Jeevitha had met Mahesh Babu at his residence after filing the nomination.
Jeevithaâ€™s husband actor Rajasekhar will be running for the post of executive vice-president, while actor Kota Shankara Rao and director Haranath Babu will be contesting for treasurer and vice-president respectively.
Both the panels have been involved in extensive mud-slinging and Shivaji has time and again accused Naresh of involving the press in the MAA elections after the latter called for a press conference in the wake of the elections. Interestingly, according to reports, Shivaji Raja said he's contesting in this election because an artiste told him that he'd kill himself if he doesn't contest.
While there have been rumours that actor Chiranjeevi favours Shivaji Raja over Naresh for the post of president, Jeevitha Rajasekhar has refuted this and said in a press conference that Chiranjeevi has extended support for the elections and will welcome whoever wins the battle. Mahesh Babuâ€™s and Chiranjeeviâ€™s support to the panelists is been seen as crucial to the outcome of the elections, considering the influence they wield in the industry.
It was only last year that Naresh and Shivaji were involved in a big spat where the former accused Shivaji of misappropriating funds collected during a US trip for the association. Though later both said they were on cordial terms with each other, tension inside the association was evident, with most of them backing Shivaji and a few remaining neutral to the scandal.
Meanwhile, both Shivaji and Naresh in their respective manifestos have declared that they will give Rs 5,000 as pension to old artistes. They have also promised medical and life insurances. Notably, both the contenders havenâ€™t made any promises on the betterment of the working conditions of female artistes in the industry, especially after many female artistes had complained of the poor conditions in the industry, including sexual harassment last year.