Hyderabad: Some important persons of the ruling class in Andhra Pradesh have taken up the responsibility of promoting film star Pawan Kalyan in politics. The attempt appears to be two-pronged. One, to stop Opposition leader YS Jagan Mohan Reddy in his tracks from becoming chief minister in 2019. Two, to help Chief Minister Nara Chandrababu Naidu, if possible, to continue for second term by diving the anti-establishment vote thus helping Naidu in retaining power. Otherwise, make Pawan Kalyan the chief minister by leading the BJP-Jana Sena alliance to power.
The media barons belonging to a particular community have come into the open in supporting the Power Star. Ramoji Rao, the Media Moghul of Telugu States, has approved the publication of a cover story on Pawan Kalyan, chief of Jana Sena Party in his latest Sunday supplement. The story published on the occasion of the audio release of Katamarayudu, a film featuring Pawan Kalyan, was first of its kind in more than forty years of Eenadu’s existence. The newspaper never published a cover story in its Sunday supplement eulogising a living person who is head of a political party. The story is hundred percent positive based on an interview in which the Power Star narrates his life journey so far. The story certainly creates a very positive image for the star. It makes a very good reading.
Two promoters of TV news channels, TV9 and NTV, were on the dais when the audio release function of Katamarayudu was held. Ravi Prakash, TV9, was the first speaker. He did not say anything about the film. He straightaway supported Pawan Kalyan’s decision to contest in the forthcoming elections. Ravi Prakash said Pawan is the right person at the right time. NTV’s Narendra Chowdary, who has been close to Congress leaders like Shabbir Ali, said Pawan Kalyan has a great future in politics. Lok Satta’s Dr Jayaprakash Narayan also expressed the same sentiments at a different forum recently.
It is strange to see resourceful persons from the same community praising a person who is from a community that is traditionally opposed to their’s. It is no secret that Kammas and Kapus are at loggerheads for decades. Kapus have been manipulated by Kammas and Reddys for political ends. Kapus have been allowing themselves to be used by the two dominant castes though their percentage in population is far more. The Reddys have been enjoying political power right from Independence. The advent of Telugu Desam Party under the charismatic leadership of film hero NT Rama Rao had paved the way for enterprising Kamma community to get the reins of power. After NTR, Chandrabau Naidu has been keeping the mantle with them community.
Megastar K Chiranjeevi tried to break the wall in 2009 when he launched ‘Praja Rajya Party’. He wanted to be the first chief minister from kapu community. In a triangular contest, the PRP ended up third with 18 seats. The Congress retained power and the TDP continued to be in opposition. After the tragic death of YS Rajasekhar Reddy, the PRP was merged into the Congress and Chiranjeevi became a Rajya Sabha Member and Union Minister of State for Tourism.
After Andhra Pradesh was bifurcated, the Congress came a cropper in both AP and Telangana State. The TDP fought the elections in alliance with the BJP. Pawan Kalyan has floated a party, Jana Sena. But he did not contest. He campaigned for the TDP-BJP alliance and against the YSRCP headed by YS Jagan Mohan Reddy. He was instrumental in taking Kapu votes in Godavari districts to the TDP away from the YSRCP. The alliance won and Naidu became the first chief minister of the residual state of AP.
As Naidu’s rule has been lacklustre and mired in corruption making him unpopular, Pawan Kalyan started going to the people and organising public meetings. There have been rumours that Pawan is a tool in the hands of Naidu. He is used as a weapon against opposition leader. Whenever YS Jagan Mohan Reddy takes up a popular cause and mobilises people against the government, Pawan Kalyan goes to the same people and promises to talk to the government. Naidu makes some appropriate noise indicating that he was acting on the suggestion of Jana Sena chief. That helps in dousing the flames of discontent.
As the half-way mark was crossed and 2019 elections are fast approaching, the ruling class appears to have chalked out a strategy to move Pawan Kalyan ahead into the mainline. They have realised that anti-establishment vote is moving towards Jagan in a big way. In order to stop it, a strategy to divide the anti-establishment vote is needed. Just like Chiranjeevi unwittingly helped YS Rajasekhara Reddy to win the second term in 2009 by dividing the anti-establishment vote, the ruling class is trying to use Pawan Kalyan to play the same role so that the TDP can continue in power after the next election. The media owners never want to make Pawan Kalyan, from the rival community, a chief minister. They are bent upon stalling Jagan. Will Pawan Kalyan and Kapu community play into the hands of the ruling class once again? Will they realise that they are being used only to be thrown out later? Will the YSRCP see the game plan of the rival media owners and political leaders and learn quick lessons in order to get ready for the future battles ? Will it shed its overconfidence and start building the party from the grassroots level? So far the opposition party has options. As time moves on, the options get diminished.