Actor-politician Mohan Babu officially joined the YSRCP after meeting with party chief Jagan Mohan Reddy on Tuesday. He was accompanied by his son Manchu Vishnu.
“Jagan will do good for the Telugu people, he will definitely become the CM,” Mohan Babu declared, expressing confidence that the YSRCP would sweep the state polls.
Speaking to reporters on the occasion after donning the YSRCP shawl over his shoulders, Mohan Babu said that he was not joining the party for a post or for power, and also reiterated his long-time association with former chief minister and Telugu Desam Party (TDP) founder NT Rama Rao.
“All parties invited me, whether it is the TDP, YSRCP or the BJP. It is my wish to join any party at any time. That is the nature of democracy. I will campaign for the YSRCP and follow whatever plans the party has for me,” he added, denying any ulterior motive on the timing of his decision.
He also praised former CM YS Rajasekhar Reddy, Jagan’s father, and pointed out that support for Jagan was growing by the day across the state.
It may be noted that Mohan Babu’s son, Manchu Vishnu, is married to Jagan’s cousin, Viranica Manchu.
The actor’s move comes after escalating tensions between him and Chief Minister and TDP President Chandrababu Naidu.
On March 3, the actor held a press meet and accused the TDP chief of failing to implement a fee reimbursement scheme. Stating that Sri Vidyanikethan institutions had been providing free education to 25% of its students for the past 26 years, Mohan Babu said that their colleges were suffering due to the non-payment of the reimbursement amount. A subsequent protest rally in Tirupati on the issue was also foiled by the police, as the Model Code of Conduct was in place.
YSRCP sources said that that while it was too late to field Mohan Babu in the upcoming Legislative Assembly and Lok Sabha polls scheduled for April 11, he was likely to be accommodated in the Rajya Sabha.
An actor-producer who starred in more than 500 films, a noted educationalist and a Padma Shri recipient, Mohan Babu enjoys massive support across the state, especially in the Rayalaseema region and Chittoor district, where he hails from, and has also established his Sri Vidyanikethan Educational Trust. Besides education, he is also known for his attempts to tackle the drought in the area, through his humanitarian work and while he served as an MP.
Mohan Babu was known for his long association with NT Rama Rao and had also shared screen space with the latter in many films. He had campaigned for the TDP and stood by Naidu during the internal party coup against NTR.
He was even nominated to the Rajya Sabha on a party ticket, serving one term from 1995 to 2000. The actor was also business partners with Naidu as a promoter in Heritage Foods, which was started by the latter. Since then, the duo have had a falling out and no longer see eye-to-eye.
Though Naidu and Mohan Babu have met on several occasions and exchanged pleasantries, they were quick to insist that the meetings had no political undertones.