The merger of Chiranjeevi's PRP with the Kirankumar Reddy-led Congress may prove to be successful in staving off the Opposition's bid to unsettle the government but it will surely make Andhra politics extremely boring, feels Naresh Nunna.
Vaudeville refers to a stage-variety entertainment show, featuring a series of short acts, songs, dances, acrobatics, comedy skits and animal acts; 'turnaround' denotes a film that has been abandoned by a studio; 'unbilled role' means a supporting role for a major star. Now let's put these jargons to use. In Andhra, a vaudeville-like PRP has made a 'turnaround' by merging with the Congress, confining PRP founder and megastar Chiranjeevi (Chiru) to an 'unbilled role'.
Before and during the launch of the much-hyped PRP, TSI had foreseen the possible walk-on (minor brief role) of Chiru in the political arena. The predictions were not based on wild political speculation but on psephological hypothesis. When the second daughter of Chiru eloped with her friend and got married, it was said that it was a conspiracy hatched to embarrass Chiru by Congress leaders who allegedly paid for the travel and stay of the young couple and the hefty legal fees. Chiru was then unsure about his entry into politics. Chiru made up his mind for a counter-attack with his own political outfit. A real leader would not have been impulsive and no party should have its roots in personal whims.
“A real leader should not be impulsive. It is not a film, there is no avenging hero. Despite his huge fan following, which could be equal to that of the legendary N. T. Rama Rao’s, Chiru was at receiving end, owing to his imprudent steps,” noted psephologist Ramalingam D. Vavilala.
PRP was confined to winning just 18 seats in the 294-member state Assembly in the 2009 elections. In a jolt to his personal ambitions, he was unsuccessful in his native district where he lost to a Congress lady. The actor managed a narrow win in Tirupati, one of the two seats he contested for the Assembly.
“It is not a debacle for a new entrant. It was wrongly perceived to be disastrous since the expectations were high. Though PRP won only 18 seats, its contestants came second in 34 Assembly constituencies. Garnering 17 per cent of the total votes, PRP played a key role in deciding the fate of 65 seats,” Vavilala added.
According to political analyst and senior journalist Ashok Tankasala, Chiranjeevi is an unfazed romanticist, a wrong man in the political paradise.
“The romanticist generally has strong likes and dislikes, irrespective of logic. With all his emotions and fancies, he dreams, imagines, sometimes they are utopian. The flip side of the romanticist is that he is aware of no reality, no rationale, and no logic,” Tankasala told TSI.
If Chiru had been a romanticist in the classic sense of the term, he could have learnt a lesson from the outcome of 2009 elections. It was the first time that his romanticism was faced with the hardcore reality outside. But, the election results did not change the man. An over-ambitious Chiru failed to generate a sense of confidence among its people. During the days of preparation, his discussions with the intellectual gentry merely resembled his sittings with film directors.
“Chiranjeevi tried to fill the voids within, being formed by more than three decades of ignorance - an ignorance of reality,” political commentator Sanjiva Reddy said. Juxtaposing the icons of Gandhi, Mother Teresa with Phule and Ambedkar led to further confusion. In fact, his party's slogan was also very filmy: 'preme lakshyam, seve margam (Love is the destiny and service the only means.' He started disappointing his followers at the very first meeting at Tirupati when he read out a prepared speech.
Chiru became a virtual non-entity in state politics and Y. S. Rajasekhara Reddy's sudden demise changed the political equations in Andhra Pradesh. The Congress high command started experimenting with the veteran K. Rosaiah. Now, a new guinea pig in the shape of Kirankumar Reddy is being used with the sole aim of ending ‘YSRisation’ of the state Congress. This gradually isolated Jagan and ensured his exit from party. The issue of a separate Telangana state also jolted state politics. There were serious doubts about the survivability of the government.
“Appointing Srikrishna Committee to study the feasibility of a Telangana state was the first move of the Congress high command. The Telangana ferment was pacified for time being,” Reddy said. Referring to the allurement of Chiranjeevi by the Congress, senior political analyst Prakash Tadi said that the Congress clinched an instant victory with the merger of PRP as ''victories in politics are (must be) immediate and momentary''.
“Individually speaking Chiru is a weak politician. The present CM, Kirankumar Reddy is a constituency-level leader. But, the strategic combination of these two feather-weight champions marked a remarkable victory over the two gigantic figures of Y. S. Jaganmohan Reddy and N. Chandrababu Naidu,” he told TSI.
Naidu dare not go for a no-confidence motion against the present government as it could become ‘counter-productive’. Jagan, who bragged that the government is running at his mercy, is now in a fix as he is uncertain of his strength, after the merger. Some MLAs in the Jagan camp are gradually distancing themselves from YSR's son and are reiterating their loyalties to the high command.
By roping in Chiranjeevi, the Congress, which has 155 MLAs, is now confident of facing a trial of strength in the Assembly. But Chiru's romanticism won't go away. After coming out of 10 Janpath, he said his party merged with the Congress to fight more fiercely for social justice. Since his feeble shoulders could not bring about any change, he decided to take the support of the more muscular Congress. Chiru's romanticism may turn Andhra politics into another yawner (a boring film).