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Polling tomorrow for one of most bitterly fought SIAA election


Chennai :  Tamil acting professionals will queue up to cast their ballotsin favour of one the of two sparring sides –one led by a young turk and the other by an experienced campaigner– as elections to various posts for South Indian Artistes’ Association (SIAA) take place here tomorrow.

In one of the most bitterly fought elections to various posts, including that of the President which was in the past held by the likes of thespian actor ‘Sivaji Ganesan,’ a mix of young and old have rallied behind popular hero Vishal Reddy on one side and incumbent SIAA head R Sarathkumar on the other. Young Vishal is said to be campaigning with a new found energy. The moot point has been his hard stance against privatisation of Nadigar Sangam (SIAA) property, as the incumbent office-bearers had decided to construct a cinema theatre, an issue which is in the court now.

Aspiring to be General Secretary, Vishal has propped up veteran actor M Nasser, a regular in all of top star Kamal Hassan’s films, for the President’s post against Kumar, also an MLA.

Incidentally, among the top four of Tamil cinema, Kamal Haasan is the only to openly declare his preference by endorsing Nasser’s candidature, even as the other three– Rajnikanth, Ajith and Vijay, are yet to officially declare their line of support.

With comedian Karnaas and actor Ponvannan (both Vice President candidates) and another hero Si Karthi (Treasurer) in tow, the five-men team of Vishal therefore calls them ‘Pandavar Ani’ (Pandava Team).

Sarath Kumar, a senior professional with more than two decades of experience, aims for a successive term while veteranactor Vijay Kumar is being fielded as his deputy from his side.

The elections had created a near virtual split among the stars and also a war of words.

Kumar’s wife Radhika and Vishal’s peer, Simbu, had openly slammed Vishal, charging him with trying to divide the film fraternity. Simbu is contesting the Vice-President’s post from the Sarath Kumar-led side. Vishal had denied the allegations.

Another Kumar aide and SIAA Secretary, veteran actor Radha Ravi, reportedly verbally abused Vishal at a meeting.

Meanwhile, sensing trouble among actors, a directors’ body, producers’ association and film employees’ federation proposed unanimous election of heads even as they called for a truce meeting between the warring sides.

However, the Vishal-led team did not take it up, with the hitmaker insisting they will battle it out in the elections.

Following a court order secured by Vishaal’s team, tomorrow’s polling and the subsequent counting will be overseen by a retired Judge of Madras High Court.

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