After quitting Congress on the weekend, actor-politician Vijayashanti has joined the BJP again after meeting Home Minister Amit Shah.
Vijayashanti, 54, was a big star in south Indian cinema when she started her political career with the BJP in 1997. She quit the party to join the Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) during its fight for a separate Telangana. She was elected to the Lok Sabha in 2009. The Telugu movie star joined the Congress in 2014, just before Andhra Pradesh was bifurcated and Telangana was born.
Her return to the BJP comes at a time the party is prepping for an aggressive campaign for the 2023 Telangana election, galvanized by its gains in the Hyderabad civic polls at the cost of the ruling TRS. The BJP won 48 of 150 seats in the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation, seven less than the TRS and 12 times its 2016 tally. The Congress barely registered, winning only two seats, the same as in 2016.
Vijayashanti is the second high-profile Congress leader to join the BJP after Khushbu Sundar from Tamil Nadu. She quit the Congress after Hyderabad local poll results on Friday.
According to those close to Vijayashanti — who had famously compared Prime Minister Narendra Modi to a terrorist and a dictator while campaigning for the national election last year – she had been disenchanted with the Congress for a while. She had not been active in Congress programmes and activities in the past few months.
She “felt sidelined” in the party and had been disgruntled over the Congress decline in Telangana, the aides said.
“Vijayashanti worked a lot in Telangana but the state Chief Minister K Chandrasekhara Rao sidelined everyone. BJP will definitely win in Telangana Assembly next time. Vijayashanti will be at the forefront for the development of the party in the state,” said BJP leader G Vivek Venkataswamy on Sunday.
Vijayashanti enjoys popularity not just in Telangana and Andhra Pradesh but also in Tamil Nadu, where she is likely to be used in the campaign for state elections due in less than six months.
Once dubbed the “female Amitabh Bachchan” for her ability to carry a film on her shoulders, Vijayashanti, at the peak of her career, played strong leads that cast her in the mold of a lone crusader against crime. She also acted in Hindi movies, gaining fans across India.