Trouble in Kerala film actors’ lobby over Mohanlal campaign

Kochi, May 13 (IANS) Trouble has broken out in the Kerala film actors lobby AMMA with national award-winning actor Salim Kumar quitting the body in protest against the election campaign by superstar Mohanlal for Left opposition candidate K.B. Ganesh Kumar in Pathanapuram assembly constituency in Kollam.

Addressing reporters at his residence on Friday, Salim Kumar said there has been an unwritten rule in AMMA (Association of Malayalam Movie Artistes) that if any of its members stood for political elections, no AMMA member should campaign for him.

“Mohanlal is an office bearer (vice-president of AMMA) and the rules were broken by him when he went and campaigned for Ganesh Kumar. There are two other candidates — Jagdish from Congress and Bheemen Reghu of BJP — who are also contesting from the same constituency,” said Salim Kumar.

“I am a Congress supporter and I could have campaigned for Jagdish, but I did not because of the unwritten understanding. Since an office bearer himself has broken the rule, I am quitting as an AMMA member. If anyone wants to campaign for any particular person, in case AMMA members are contesting for different parties, then that person should first quit AMMA,” said Salim Kumar adding that he has sent his resignation to Mammootty, who is AMMA general secretary.

On Thursday late evening, Mohanlal reached Pathanapuram in Kollam and told a massive gathering that Ganesh Kumar is a personal friend of his and hence he had come to meet him.

Though there has been no official word from other AMMA office bearers, its president Innocent, who is a Lok Sabha member from Chalakudy in Thrissur and won as a Left-supported candidate, played down the controversy and said that it was just a “personal visit” that Mohanlal made.

“It’s something personal,” said Innocent.

But Congress candidate Jagdish — ace comedian and character artiste — said it was the general impression among people that Mohanlal, after coming to meet Ganesh Kumar, went to the residence of State Minister of Cinema Thiruvanchoor Radhakrishnan, who is contesting from Kottayam constituency.

“We know each other for several decades and the feeling here is since he came to meet Ganesh Kumar, he should have called on both of us (Reghu and myself) also,” said Jagdish.

While Ganesh Kumar is part of the Left Democratic Front (LDF) and is looking for a fourth consecutive win, taking him on is Jagdish and police officer-turned-actor Reghu.

Ganesh Kumar is the youngest of the three and will turn 50 shortly, while Jagdish and Reghu are in their early 60s.

Ganesh Kumar represents the Kerala Congress (Pillai), the party floated by his father and former minister R. Balakrishna Pillai, which has been part of the Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF) for years.

Last year, owing to differences of opinion within, Kumar quit the UDF and joined the LDF that is led by the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M).

The contest is seen as a close one between Ganesh Kumar and Jagdish.

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