Roja's journey from silver screen to Andhra Cabinet


by IANS | Mon, Apr 11, 2022, 03:30 PM

Amaravati, April 11 (IANS) Luck has finally smiled on actor-politician R.K. Roja as she found a berth in Andhra Pradesh Cabinet.

The two-time MLA and firebrand leader of YSR Congress Party (YSRCP) took oath as a member of Chief Minister Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy's revamped Cabinet on Monday.

Shouldering a new responsibility in her career, the 49-year-old was quick to announce her decision to bid adieu to shootings.

A member of Andhra Pradesh Assembly from Nagari in Chittoor district, Roja announced that she will stop shooting for films and television programmes. The anchor will also stay away from 'Jabardasth', a popular Telugu comedy show.

After YSRCP stormed to power in 2019, Roja was a strong contender for the ministerial position. She, however, had to contend with the post of chairperson of Andhra Pradesh Industrial Infrastructure Corporation (APIIC).

Also known as Roja Selvamani, she has come a long way since she took a plunge into politics by joining Telugu Desam Party (TDP) in 1998.

Born to Nagaraja Reddy and Lalitha in Chittoor district, her real name is Sri Latha Reddy. She holds a bachelor's degree from Sri Padmavathi Women's University, Tirupati in political science.

Roja, a Kuchipudi dancer, made her debut in films with 'Prema Thapassu' (1991) in the female lead with Rajendra Prasad. The next year she entered the Tamil film industry with 'Chembaruthi' directed by R.K. Selvamani, whom she married in 2002. The film with Prashanth in the lead proved a hit and helped her establish in the Tamil film industry. She continued working in both Telugu and Tamil films and also featured in few Malayalam movies.

Like her on screen roles, Roja's political journey was also full of drama. As president of the women's wing of TDP, she came to occupy a prominent position in the party.

However, her electoral debut was not to her expectation. She lost from Nagari in 2004. TDP president Chandrababu Naidu fielded her from Chandragiri constituency in 2009 but this time too she was unsuccessful.

Roja felt Naidu, who also hails from Chittoor district, has done injustice to her twice in allotting seat and in 2009 resigned as Telugu Mahila president and from the party. She slammed Naidu saying that he would not do justice to those who believed in him.

As Congress led by Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy retained power in then undivided Andhra Pradesh in 2009, she called on him and expressed her willingness to join the party. However, her plans suffered a setback with the death of Rajasekhara Reddy and subsequent political developments.

However, after Rajasekhara Reddy's son Jagan Mohan Reddy quit Congress and floated YSRCP, she decided to sail with him. Though she was elected from Nagari in 2014, it was the TDP which came to power in truncated Andhra Pradesh.

Critics branded her as an 'iron leg' who brings bad luck wherever she goes. The firebrand often lands herself in controversies with her harsh verbal attacks on her rivals.

In 2016, she was suspended from Assembly for one year for allegedly using abusive language against members of ruling TDP, including then Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu.

In 2019, Roja was elected again from Nagari and this time YSRCP stormed to power with a landslide majority.

"I have proved that I am not an iron leg but a golden leg," an overjoyed Roja told her critics. She had termed her victory and that of her party as a slap in the face of those who called her an 'iron leg'.

Roja's hopes of finding a Cabinet berth were dashed as Jagan Mohan Reddy had to accommodate two senior MLAs from Chittoor district. She was sulking but Jagan Mohan Reddy tried to assuage her feelings by offering her the post of APIIC chairperson.

As Jagan Reddy had also promised that he will revamp his Cabinet half-way through his tenure, this kept Roja's hopes alive. The YSRCP chief finally rewarded her for her loyalty and patience.

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