New Delhi: In a development that could alter the political equations in Andhra Pradesh, Telugu film superstar Chiranjeevi Sunday formally announced his foray into politics and said he was dedicating his life to serving people.
Addressing a crowded press conference at his newly inaugurated party office at the Jubilee Hills here, the actor said he would announce the name and policies of his party at a public meeting August 26 in the temple town of Tirupati.
Stating that he was joining politics to do more public service, the 53-year-old actor said he wanted to bring in a change.
The actor, whose party is likely to emerge as the third major political force after the ruling Congress and the main opposition Telugu Desam Party (TDP), said his outfit would be pro-poor and work for social justice.
He did not agree that there was no political vacuum in the state. 'If there was no political vacuum, we would not have seen this huge response. The vacuum is there in society and politics. People always look for change,' he said and pointed out that the gap between the poor and the rich was widening.
'Thirty years ago when I entered the film world, there were many stars. If I had thought there are already so many actors, I would not have been here,' he said.
Asked about his main political rival - Chief Minister Y S Rajasekhara Reddy or TDP chief N Chandrababu Naidu, he said: 'I have no rivals in politics. My fight is with poverty and hunger.'
'It is a memorable day in my life. After spending 30 years in cine field, I have decided to enter politics in response to the call from all sections of people. From here onwards, I am dedicating my life to serve people,' said Chiranjeevi, ending months of speculations on his political entry.
'I am donning a new role. I can't act in this role. In this new role, I have to live for others and this gives a satisfaction to me,' said the actor, who also runs a blood bank.
'When people come to me and tell me how the blood (from the blood bank) saved the life of their son or father, I get immense satisfaction. I go back to the house and share this with my family,' he said.
'I don't know politics just as I don't know how many blood groups are there. I don't know the composition of blood but I know it can save life and I also know I can serve people by entering into politics,' said the actor.
The mega star impressed everyone at his first full-fledged interaction with media in the new role. Clad in white khadi shirt and black trousers, he kept smiling and handled the media queries with ease.
'I consider it as a blessing from god. I am fortunate to get this opportunity. A few have got this opportunity. I take it as my responsibility, my dharma,' he said, thanking his fans for reminding him of his responsibility by holding meetings and rallies to urge him to take a plunge into politics.
'I am not into politics for the sake of posts or power but for the satisfaction and peace of mind. God has given me popularity and money. It can't tempt me,' he said.
The actor said he was inspired by Mother Teresa, who dedicated her life to serve the needy. 'Hence my first public meeting is being organized on August 26, her birth anniversary. I will speak how her life inspired me and what I want to do,' he said.
Mother Teresa's picture was prominent along with those of Mahatma Gandhi, B R Ambedkar and Jyoti Rao Phule in his background. 'I am inspired by all these great personalities,' he said.
Chiru, as his popularly known among his fans, recalled: 'A home guard in Khammam district and an IT couple in Hyderabad ended their lives due to personal problems but wrote in their suicide notes that Chiranjeevi should enter into politics to bring a change. They reminded me of my responsibility.'
The actor said he was impressed by the vision of former president APJ Abdul Kalam, who was among several eminent persons he has met in recent months.
'Abdul Kalam told me that people like you should come into politics. People are looking at you not just as an actor but beyond an actor. You should come into politics. It will be wrong on part of good people if they don't come into politics. After this I felt that it would be a historic blunder if I don't enter into politics,' Chiranjeevi said.
Celebrations broke out outside his office as he announced his plans. Hundreds of his fans burst crackers and distributed sweets.
Chiru, who has acted in over 200 movies, said he was leaving the film industry with a heavy heart. 'Politics will be my priority but I am not closing the door on acting. If a serious and educative film comes my way and it can serve society, I will definitely do it.'
The actor did not rule out alliances with other parties for the elections slated to be held in March next year. He said he had no political guru and that people were his political guru.
'People will decide what should be my role,' he said when asked whether he would be the next chief minister.
'I am humanist,' he quipped when asked whether he was Leftist or rightist.
'Let me go among people. They will decide,' was the reply when asked how many seats his party would win.
'Sensitiveness is my biggest asset. I can understand the suffering of people,' he said when a reporter wanted to know being a sensitive man how would he fit into politics.