Actor-turned-politician Vijayashanti, who quit the Congress over the weekend, joined the ruling BJP today, a day after she met with Home Minister Amit Shah after which party leader G Vivek Venkatswamy announced the mediapersons of her induction into the party.
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. She “felt sidelined” in the party and had been disgruntled over the Congress decline in Telangana, the aides said. 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.
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. 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. Vijayashanti is the second high-profile Congress leader to join the BJP after Khushbu Sundar from Tamil Nadu. 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.