Thursday, February 10, 2011

From PRP President to Congress MLA ...

"How can one think of strangling one's own mother?" - Thus thundered Chiranjeevi, in a press conference on the 19th of August, 2009.

This was in response to a front page banner headline in a telugu newspaper Eenadu on that day. "Jenda Peekedama" was the headline. Roughly translated, it means "Shall we uproot our flag?". The story was about a late night secret meeting the MLA's of Praja Rajyam Party (now defunct) had with Allu Aravind (Chiranjeevi is only the namesake President, Aravind can be termed as the "working" president :D). In that meeting, a detailed discussion happened on the future course of the party, keeping in mind the debacle in the 2009 general elections. And the most discussed option was to merge PRP into the Congress. And ofcourse, "sources" leaked it to Eenadu.

Chiranjeevi came out thundering. He accused Eenadu of having an agenda. He called upon cadre to strengthen the foundation on the PRP flag. He called for a renewed effort from the cadre to ensure that the flag stays in the hearts and minds of people (all his words, not mine). He went on to say that uprooting of the party flag is equivalent to strangling your own mother. He asked what agenda is driving eenadu to ensure that the PRP pack its bag and shut its shop. He went on to remind us that 70 lakh people voted for his party and it is an insult to even contemplate such a merger.

Frankly, after watching his "performance" on that day - I believed this was his "redemption moment". If he was intelligent enough, I thought he will use this moment and this headline to gradually turn the tide towards him. The much needed "push" that his party needed, was provided by Eenadu - that's what I believed.

And about one and half year after that "performance" - on February 6, 2011, Chiranjeevi packed the bags, shut shop , uprooted the flag (equivalent to strangling your mother) and merged his Praja Rajyam Party into the Congress party.

From promising to bring in "change" in his maiden press conference on August 17, 2008 when he announced his intention to join politics, to changing his own ideals on February 6, 2011 - Chiranjeevi has really given us a glimpse into his fickle decision making process. Just a day after announcing, amidst lakhs of people on August 26, 2008, that he will usher in people's rule and hence the name Praja Rajyam, he has begun to accept all and sundry political leaders from various parties. Disgruntled political leaders from various parties (mainly opposition parties) interpreted his call for "change" as an invitation to change their loyalties from their party to his.

An old blogpost here has chronicled his various flip-flops during the election campaign. It took no time for him to prove that he and his party are just like any other party in the state. Their basic assumption that people will just look at his face and vote backfired badly when his party won just 18 seats (despite getting 70 lakh votes). Even Chiranjeevi lost in one of the two seats he contested - in what was considered his "stronghold"! Yet,today the english media somehow is desperately trying to project him as some kind of saviour of the Congress party! Why did Congress party need a saviour in the first place?

About 15 days after his "outburst", YSR died. And that's when Chiranjeevi found hope. Suddenly he became an important factor in the state politics. Given Jagan's unrelenting demand to make him the Chief Minister, PRP's 18 MLA's suddenly became the make or break factor for the Congress government. And so all the outbursts against "unprecedented corruption" of the Congress government were forgotten. PRP got ready for a tie-up with Congress for Hyderabad Municipal polls. And then there was widespread criticism in the Congress party - and the plan had to be shelved.

Chiranjeevi resumed his "attacks" on the government. Occasionally he got reminded of issues like corruption, farmer suicides, price rise. A dharna here, a statement there - that was the trend. And when Rajya Sabha polls came up, he announced his support for the Congress party candidates. By now, it was clear that he would ally with the Congress when needed, and the government had nothing to fear. Amidst all this, Jaganmohan Reddy, s/o YSR, quit the party and demonstrated that he had the strength of 24 MLAs and this set the ball rolling. Congress party badly needed him. He needed the Congress party badly. Unable to visualize himself as someone who is capable of heading the party into another election, Chiranjeevi immediately accepted the offer of merging into the Congress party.

After pompusly declaring that he will fight corruption, he shamelessly merged his party into the Congress party. And when asked the same question - Chiru had this to answer - "YSR's govt. was the most corrupt ever. I am sure Sonia Gandhi has begun the process of cleaning that cancer." And he cited the examples of Sonia Gandhi's prompt actions on 2G, Adarsh, CWG etc. (Speaks volumes about his intellect, isn't it?).

Which brings up this question - Is Sonia Gandhi planning to use Chiranjeevi to erase YSR from the annals of the Congress party? Is she using him to separate YSR and the Congress party led by Her Eminence? Is Chiranjeevi a pawn in that larger game to ensure YSR's legacy is destroyed? Entirely possible, given that Chiranjeevi has been attacking YSR for the past 3 days. A very strong effort will be made to grill into the gullible minds of people, that YSR and Congress were different entities. And like all bad things that happen in the Congress party, Sonia Gandhi had no knowledge about the corruption by YSR too.

Or in the event of the state splitting, has he been promised the Chief Minister's post of the Andhra region? Is this why he is looking so jubliant and relieved these days?

It is impossible to believe that Chiranjeevi can even retrieve half of those 70 lakh votes - given his dismal and disgusting performance over the past 2 years. That he found it fit to cheat on so many of his fans and followers will haunt him for a long time to come. Ideally he should have realised that people are not as stupid as he thinks. To assume even today that those flocking to see him while travelling will automatically vote for him, speaks volumes about his capacity to understand any situation.

Chiranjeevi has already announced that he will take up whatever responsibility "Madam" gives him - thereby fully becoming a Congressman within no time!


CodeNameV said...

I have been meaning to write my thoughts on your post in telugu. Lest I forget, I will put them down here:

I feel your assertions are correct. It is clear that a hitherto unknown Kiran Kumar Reddy is not a crowd-puller. YSR was a crowd puller. So is Jagan. What Sonia needed was a crowd puller - a big one at that.

Sonia Gandhi's master stroke (and yes, I really mean it) might achieve 3 objectives - 1) Find a face for the party behind which she can play her politics 2) Keep the caste-ists happy 3) Keep TDP far away from the high post

Who after YSR seems to be clear! Kiran Kumar Reddy is only a sort of night-watchman. Very soon, I feel Chiranjeevi will start taking up high posts, if not CM then at least at Ministerial level.

Behind all this, there is definitely a caste war. Reddys definitely do not want a Khamma leader to be at the top. As is there are a very few khammas in AP Congress. The only other high power caste that Reddys dont have a problem with is Kapus. This is the reason why Chiranjeevi is getting this renewed attention from Sonia. There was a talk in Vijayawada after YSR's death as to why Vangaveeti Radha is not being considered for the high post. Again, he is not a crowd puller unlike his late father.

This is also a big challenge for TDP now. Chiranjeevi will pull crowds. Now he wont have the responsibility to ensure Party's success also. This means INC will use this to advantage. I am expecting 1) More free stuff 2) More high flying promises 3) Religious and Caste entitlements

But the most important question is "who is behind this decision? Given that Sonia's understanding of AP Caste demographics is next to nothing, how did she arrive at this master stroke?"

My guess is there is one of these two people - Dasari or Undavalli.

Given Dasari's "lafda" with Chirajeevi, chances are Undavalli is behind this decision. The dreams of Chiranjeevi might come true. However it depends on how well he can bend and say "My lady, as you wish!". Only time will tell.

On a lighter side, I am most interested to read what Mohan Babu feels about this, especially since there was so much drama when Chrinajeevi entered politics :P

But on this piece sir - brilliant. One gets a very interesting perspective from the piece.

Unknown said...

A party which was formed to fight corruption has been merged with the party which has set new Guiness record in Corruption. Whom he trying to fool? Any how he was not a able leader so whether he merge with Congress or not, i guess it has minimum effect on Andhra politics given that he won just 18 out of 280 odd seats.

Sudhir said...

@CodeNameV - you also made the cardinal sin of crediting Sonia with this step :D

On a serious note, agree that the desperation of Congress for a crowd puller warranted such a merger. However, it will be of great interest to see how those Kapus who supported him 2009 react to this latest step by their "icon".

Plus the neutral voters amongst that 70 lakhs were those that were inclined towards TDP but wanted to give this fellow a chance. So their votes are gone. The committed base of Chiru might dwindle as time passes, is what I feel.

And another major factor will be "anti-corruption" stance. If he continues his anti-YSR tirade, it will back fire on the party. If he doesn't, it will backfire personally on him. Interesting to see how that will play out.

The leaked YSR letter clearly shows it was YSR's idea that PRP be merged into Congress. Further negotiations and all must have happened directly through central leadership only - no state leader is so close to both HC and Aravind to carry out the nitty-gritty part.

Dasari was busy with Parama Veera Chakra :D , so maybe Undavalli did play some cards.

On a personal front, I feel disgusted with this fellow. I very strongly thought he will be like a whiff of fresh air. Simply feel cheated with his antics.

And about Mohan Babu - ROFL - somethings best left unsaid ;)

@Govind you are absolutely right - one of his major planks was "anti-corruption" and he merges into the party that patents corruption!


Anurup said...

I wished he would join the BJP instead of starting his own party. Starting a new party is a huge hassle and requires a lot of organizational skills. And it is unnecessary at this point in AP.

But alas he did start a party and showed everyone how not to do it. In the process ruined TDP's chances to come back to power. It is a total shame that he now joined the Congress. I am sure he will pay for it dearly.

I think the Congress on its part did the right thing because this will ensure that the government won't fall till the elections.

I can't wait to see what they will do about Telangana. The by-elections and MLC elections should be fun too.

Anonymous said...

I cant understand why you had any expectations from Chiranjeevi at all, considering the following points:

1) It was well known that his party was meant for Kapu caste.

2) He spoke the wrong language of social justice and minority appeasement right from day one.

3) His U-turn on Telangana issue should have been a wakeup call for all. Why should he first support T-cause first of all and then run away from it when the time came?

4) The guy seemed to just read out pre-written scripts and was almost rivalling Mr. Clown Prince in lack of impromptu-ness.

5) His family and in-laws also didnt do their part in promoting themselves as role-models and surely even if he seemed an unfortunate angel among devils, he would have come across as a powerless weakling a.k.a. manmohan singh, and hence not a role-model himself.

I simply fail to understand why even astute people like you can fall for such guys in the first place? I sensed a similar dissappointment from a few tweets of another guy "centreofright". Why not place such people under probation for a few years? Whats the reason for this "fan" mentality even among the sensible? In the end, isnt he just another "pagati veshagaadu", meant just for our entertainment?

Sudhir said...

@Anonymous - I plead guilty. I have earlier documented more than a couple of times, my disgust at Chiranjeevi's behaviour in politics. I have even strongly believed that there is no point blaming others (like Aravind) for his decisions. However, at some angle, I believed that his press conference denouncing the headline was a redemption moment.

Though I did not expect him to drastically alter his flip-flop mentality, I never expected him to shut shop. I do accept that I saw him as a ray of hope, and feel very cheated today :(. I agree with you that he is just another "pagati veshagadu".

Thanks for your detailed comment, and also I would like to know your name :)


Anonymous said...

This is Kedar from Hyderabad.

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