What Is Pawan Kalyan Upto?
Hyderabad: Pawan Kalyan, the power star, is caught in a dilemma not knowing whether or not to criticise Andhra Pradesh government in the wake of the police suppression In Bhimavaram and Narsapuram constituencies in West Godavari district. The promoters of Mega Aqua Food industry in three villages have had problems in acquiring lands needed for establishment of the industry.
The permission for the Rs 150 crore mega aqua food park was given by the centre to Anand Group in 2013. The same group had got permission for a similar industry at Indore in Madhya Pradesh. While the group could start operations at Indore plant the work is yet to commence in AP. The nagging problems in acquiring land forced the owners of Anand group to write to the central and the State governments expressing their inability to go ahead with the proposed plant. This was taken as an insult by the industry-savvy Chief Minister Nara Chandrababu Naidu. He ordered the DGP to deal sternly with the protesters and facilitate the acquisition process to be completed as soon as possible. The DGP in turn passed instructions to the SP who unleashed a series of strong measures. About 50 thousand people of 30 villages have been agitating against the food industry fearing that it would contaminate the water. There have been Rasta rokos and dharnas. The angry people did not allow the sub- collector to organise Gram Sabhas to explain the benefits that would accrue from the plant in terms of employment, cold storage facilities for the farmers and fishermen to store their products. People who are obstructing argue that their lands yield two or three crops a year and they are prepared to give their lives but not their lands.
Police had beaten up the agitators and booked binding over cases under section 307. Men had fled from their homes leaving behind women to hold the forte. The women also are targeted by the police.
Pawan disappoints farmers
The agitators thought Pawan Kalyan would come to their rescue since it was under his influence that they voted for the TDB-BJP alliance. All the MP and MLA seats in West Godavari were won by the ruling alliance. The MLAs representing Bhimavaram and Narsapuram are emotionally with the agitators but they lack the guts to take up the matter with their chief minister. They are not able to convince the people either.
An NGO had brought about hundred persons to Hyderabad to meet with Pawan Kalyan on Saturday. The Tollywood hero heard them patiently and expressed his anguish at the situation asking the government not to lead the situation to Nandigram type of crisis. It may be recalled that the Left Front government had used force against the landowners at Nandigam in West Bengal. Mamata Banerjee, after coming to power, got lands given back to the farmers by the Tatas. The reference made to Nandigam is specially ironical since the agitation against the Food industry is led by the CPI(M) which was heading the Left Front in a West Bengal when the lands were forcibly taken from farmers. Madhu, former member of Rajya Sabha and secretary of AP COM committee was dragged by police at Bhimavaram recently and was kept under custody till the agitators forced the police to release him. YSRCP also is slow in reacting to the situation which has been simmering for more than two years. Y S Jagan Mohan Reddy is slated to make his first visit to the troubled area on October 19.
As against this background, Pawan Kalyan had to confront the problem. He cannot ask the chief minister to shelve the plan of Food industry. He cannot convince the people. He took shelter under vague statements like asking the courts to appoint a committee to talk to and hear the victims and come up with a solution. He asked the elected representatives to rise up to the occasion. But he himself was not prepared to condemn the police suppression unequivocally or attack the CM directly for allowing the police to be rough with the villagers. He appealed to the BJP leaders and requested the government to be considerate. It is not the way that Pawan Kalyan ‘s admirers expected him to react when they traveled all the way from Bhimavaram to Hyderabad.
The problem with Pawan is that he is acutely aware of the ground realities. He knows he is not as popular as N T Rama Rao who left films and plunged headlong into politics once he made the decision. He came to power within nine months of launching his Telugu Desai Party (TDP). Some 26 years of that path-breaking development Pawan’s brother thought he should try his luck. Once he took the decision, he stopped working for films and took to politics full time. Chiru had launched Praja Rajyam Party and contested for all the seats in 2009 elections in erstwhile united AP. He could not make it. He understood his limitations and merged PR party in the Congress m, accepted Rajya Sabha membership and a berth in the UPA-II cabinet. But the Congress party had to pay a heavy price for bifurcating the State. The signs were very clear.
Pawan takes the plunge
At this juncture Chiru’s younger brother thought it is his time to use his clout. He was taken by a local BJP leader Somu Veerraju to Gandhinagar for a meeting with the then Gujarat chief minister, Narendra Modi, who was by then anointed as prime ministerial candidate of the BJP. After returning to Hyderabad he received a call from TDP chief Chandrabau Naidu inviting himself for breakfast at the former’s residence. Then he went on to share platform with the future prime minister and would be chief minister. It is all history now.
Pawan keeps talking about his political outfit Janasena. He ventured to meet the people on three occasions after the BJP-TDP dispensation took office in Delhi and Hyderabad. He first went to see the problem that cropped up because of the policy of land pooling being implemented by AP government. Then he went to that area again when minister’s were threatening to implement land acquisition law. He addressed a meeting in which he declared that he would go on fast if necessary to put pressure on government to desist from taking lands by force. He ended up traveling to Vijayawada by a special aircraft along with Minister Srinivas and met Naidu. He told media persons that there is need to acquire land and he asked the CM to convince the people before taking over the lands.
Emerging from cocoon
Then he emerged from his cocoon when there was a public furore against the centre and the state governments when the promised special status was denied. He addressed a meeting at Tirupati and then at Kakinada where he put future plans of holding meetings in other districts on the hold. Now the victims themselves came to Hyderabad to meet their favourite leader. But the leader was again vague in his statements. He is indecisive.
Kalyan, Sidhu in same page
The reason for the timid stance of the power star is not far to seek. He is like Navjot Sidhu, the cricketing celebrity. Pawan cannot win an election on his own but can help a party to make it. He is not like NTR who an undisputed number one hero in Telugu film industry. He was adored people of all castes, all ages and all regions. Even Chiranjeevi was the best among his peers. He enjoyed a huge fan following cutting across castes and regions. Pawan is a popular hero but there are others to reckon with. He is not the only hero though he has vast following. And he is conscious of the fact that he is placed in a different footing compared to NTR and Chiranjeevi. He would, therefore, remain a fringe player rather than the main player. Sidhu has taken the lead from Kalyan. The cricketer-politician was keen on floating an outfit after quitting the BJP and failing to clinch a deal with the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP). He announced Awaj-e-Punjab and then developed cold feet. He is now in confabulations with the grand old party for which he might campaign in assembly election to be held early next year. Pawan Kalyan would be doing the same again in 2019 unless he changes his attitude and takes bold decisions and strongly criticise the government when it goes against the interests of the people. Naidu’s government, in the meanwhile, should convince the people and help the food industry to come up there or some other convenient place.