Is the retired movie star’s song and dance proving too much for B Sriramulu’ fledgling party?
Movie star Rakshita has upset BSR Congress founder B Sriramulu and risks being sacked from the party.
Sriramulu, jailed mining lord Janardhana Reddy’s right hand man, is reportedly scandalised by her unruly behaviour, besides the expenses piling up on her account.
Rakshita recently embarrassed the party with a raucous party at the Taj West End, during which the hotel reportedly threatened to call the police.
When Talk spoke to Rakshita, she denied the allegations (see box). Party members at various levels complain she talks to them arrogantly, and overrides everything they say. They have approached Sriramulu with complaints about her highhandedness.
As president of the women’s wing, and party in-charge for seven districts (Mandya, Mysore, Ramanagara, Chamarajanagar, Hassan, Udupi and Mangalore), she wields considerable clout in a party that is young, but flush with mining cash.
Sriramulu went on a padayatra from Basavakalyana in Bidar district to Bangalore, a distance of 912 km. The 54-day yatra concluded at Freedom Park on June 17. Rakshita booked a cottage at the West End to throw a party to mark the end of the successful rally. Sriramulu couldn’t participate as he was tired after the long walk. The party became so loud after 11.30 pm that the hotel authorities had to intervene, sources said.
Senior party leaders persuaded Rakshita’s gang to leave, and told Sriramulu the party’s image would be tarnished if she was allowed a free rein. Sriramulu reportedly defended her, expressing the hope that she would mend her ways.
Insiders say Rakshita influences the induction of leaders into the party and directs its publicity. Real estate financiers and goons running shady businesses are approaching Rakshita to reach Sriramulu, insiders complain.
Rakshita has started appearing in posters next to Sriramulu. In Malavalli, near Mandya, she hogged all the limelight, leaving Sriramulu livid. The posters featured more of her and her husband Prem than Sriramulu. Party insiders say that is the reason Sriramulu has kept her out of his tour of northern Karnataka (which he concluded in Gadag on Wednesday).
In fact, Rakshita has been a prominent presence at public events, like the recent one to induct former legislator Siraj Sheikh in Chitradurga. But soon, she replaced him and others in Chitradurga district with her own men.
Kumaraswamy of Kanakapura was once the president for Jai Karnataka, an organisation started by reformed don Muthappa Rai. Kumaraswamy and his associates joined the BSR Congress, and was welcomed profusely by Sriramulu. He was put in charge of Ramanagara.
Soon, Rakshita threw a tantrum. “Ramanagara comes under my jurisdiction. Who gave them power?” she screamed, and prompted Kumaraswamy to resign from the party. She behaved in the same manner with Somanna, a JD(S) leader from Mysore who had migrated to the new party, and reportedly ousted him.
Rakshita is the daughter of wellknown cameraman Gowrishankar and actress Mamatha Rao. She first got a break in the movie Appu opposite Puneet Rajkumar. The movie was a blockbuster hit and she has since appeared in 13 Kannada films and 10 Telugu and Tamil films. At the peak of her popularity, in 2005, she quit the movies. Two years later, she married the popular Kannada film director Prem.
Prem hails from Mandya district and used to be an associate of senior actor-turned politician, Ambarish. He now goes around claiming he was the sole reason for Ambarish winning two elections. On March 9 this year, the couple sat next to Sriramulu at a public function in northern Karnataka. Sriramulu, who had broken away from the BJP, had announced a twoday fast to get the government to clean the Tungabhadra river. Soon came the official confirmation that Rakshita had joined his new party.
Rakshita’s defence: What to do? People love film stars!
When Talk met Rakshita, she responded to all tough questions calmly, and without flinching. Though she has been in politics less than six months, she showed confidence in the way she dealt with the media glare. She admitted she was new to politics, and had lots to learn, but denied she had insulted anyone or forced anyone out of the party.
1.I haven’t done any damage to Siraj Sheikh or any other leader. Siraj is like my elder brother.
2.I haven’t done any damage to Siraj Sheikh or any other leader. Siraj is like my elder brother.
3.No, I haven’t been paid to join the BSR Congress. I have enough money to lead a decent life. I am there to serve the public.
4.It is true my pictures were displayed prominently during the Malavalli leg of Sriramulu's tour. I am married to Prem, who hails from that region. People like film stars a lot. That doesn’t mean Sriramulu was ignored.
5.I am not blocking other women from entering the party.
6.I'm not aware that Venkatesh Gowda, our party’s Yuva Morcha president, has complained against me to Sriramulu. I don't believe it.