Actor-producer Manchu Vishnu, who was elected president of Tollywood's influential industry body, Movie Artists Association (MAA), on Sunday, has claimed that megastar Chiranjeevi wanted him to withdraw from the contest in favour of character actor Prakash Raj.
Addressing a news conference here on Monday, Vishnu revealed that Chiranjeevi had told his father, Mohan Babu, to advise him to pull out as Prakash Raj was contesting for the top MAA post. Vishnu made this revelation hours after Prakash Raj and Chiranjeevi's brother, Naga Babu, resigned from the MAA following a bitterly contested election.
Both Prakash Raj and Naga Babu said they were pained by the regional sentiments stirred up in the run-up to the elections. Vishnu said he would persuade both Prakash Raj and Naga Babu to continue in the MAA, for he needed their "valuable advice" to discharge his responsibilities as MAA president.
Vishnu did not agree with Prakash Raj, who's from Karnataka, that he was defeated because he not a Telugu 'bidda'. The young actor pointed out that 274 MAA members had voted for Prakash Raj and most of them were Telugu.
Vishnu also denied that his panel had promised to amend MAA bye-laws to stop non-Telugu members from contesting the elections.
In the elections held on Sunday, Vishnu was elected MAA president defeating Prakash Raj by 109 votes. He polled 383 votes, compared with the 274 garnered by his rival. The Vishnu panel also won all the key posts, barring executive vice-president, which was bagged by actor Srikanth of the Prakash Raj panel.
In the elections held for the 18 Executive Committee members, the Vishnu panel bagged 10 seats and the opposing camp won the remaining eight.
Claiming that MAA is one family, Vishna said he had been given a chance to serve members of the family. He said that those who were elected from the other panel were also members of the MAA family. "I love Prakash Raj. We said so many things during the elections, but the past is the past," he said.
Vishnu also remarked that actor Ram Charan has not voted for him. "I am 99 per cent sure because Charan will stand by his father (Chiranjeevi), just like I support my father," the newly elected MAA president said.
Vishnu gave credit for his victory to Mohan Babu. "Everyone in the industry said that let us vote for Mohan Babu's son. That's why I have won," he said. He also thanked the outgoing MAA president, Naresh, for his support.
Mohan Babu, meanwhile, reacted by saying that some people had tried to provoke him. He warned them not to think that he would remain silent. "You want to say whatever you like just because you got a platform. I have many things to say, but this is not the platform," he said.
The veteran actor said that the MAA should seek the support of the chief ministers of both Telangana and Andhra Pradesh.