Tollywood’s lead actor Pawan Kalyan who had formal political entry through the Praja Rajyam Party (PRP), launched by his brother Chiranjeevi in the year 2008 had to reincarnate his political innings during 2014 general election to the Andhra Pradesh (AP) Legislative Assembly and Indian Parliament’s Lok Sabha constituencies. Chiranjeevi, as President of the PRP, had successfully merged PRP with the Indian National Congress (INC) in 2011. PRP’s merger with INC had put an end to expected positive political outcomes by certain quarters in AP politics through Chiranjeevi and Kapu community.
Due to a sporadic change in the political atmosphere of AP, on account of the sudden and tragic death of Chief Minister Dr Y S Rajashekara Reddy (YSR) and other associated factors, INC was pushed into a massive political crisis. As a result, INC’s political base and support to its government at AP level started to diminish.
After the death of YSR, INC at AP level faced challenges from YSR’s son Y S Jagan Mohan Reddy and Telangana Rastra Samithi (TRS) Chief K Chandrashekar Rao (KCR).
A significant section of AP INC Members of Legislative Assembly (MLA’s) started to favour the leadership of Y S Jagan Mohan Reddy, after the death of YSR. An eloquent section of AP MLA’s favouritism towards Y S Jagan Mohan Reddy’s direction pushed the INC into a minority position, politically. But, somehow, the INC at AP level managed to lead the government for almost five years without losing ground on the AP Legislative Assembly.
During this same phase, the INC was also not in a position to seek and depend on the support of the TRS on the floor of the AP Legislative Assembly for a majority. Even INC started to face a stiff political demand from the TRS championed public movement in favour of the creation of a separate Telangana state. Thus, the INC, at AP level, during this phase, was in an unusual dilemma on how to save its government’s strength on the floor of the AP Legislative Assembly and political base at ground level? Both, Y S Jagan Mohan Reddy and TRS under KCR have become a stumbling block for its political prospects.
As a result, the INC concretely made efforts to have support and subsequent merger of PRP into its fold. But then, at a certain point in time, even PRP’s merger with INC failed to rescue INC concretely on the floor of AP Legislative Assembly. The opposition Telugu Desam Party’s (TDP) ‘favourable role’ during ‘No Confidence Motion’ against the INC government rescued it. Thus, at a particular point in time, both the ruling and opposition parties (i.e., INC & TDP, respectively) have realised the potential looming danger in the form of Y S Jagan Mohan Reddy (by this period he launched a separate political party and named it as YSRCP) and TRS Chief KCR.
One of the primes edged factor, which contributed the INC to control massive losing political ground, for a limited duration, at AP level emanated through INC’s political power at New Delhi range. INC was also successfully running Indian Union’s (coalition UPA) government under the Prime Ministership of Dr Manmohan Singh during this period. And INC was headed by Sonia Gandhi as National President. Sonia Gandhi as National President of the INC was the prime leader who dealt with unfavourable political conditions at the AP level during this period of crisis, albeit through the undisclosed support of the Indian Union government under the Prime Ministership of Dr Manmohan Singh, at times!!
With the merger of PRP into the INC; INC not only had anticipation to save its INC government at AP level for the 2009-2014 duration but also had the intention of increasing its support base at ground level. The INC expected that PRP’s scored 18% vote share during 2009 elections may shift into its fold. [But, such expectations of INC got proven entirely wrong after witnessing the final results of the 2014 elections.]
Finally, the INC put forward a few efforts to save its government and political base at AP level, after the death of YSR. In this whole process, INC initiated a few steps, like;
01. Made high intensified corruption allegations against the YSRCP leader Y S Jagan Mohan Reddy and started to prosecute him legally, through various national investigative agencies like CBI, etc. In this whole process, INC government(s) (at both AP and federal level, in a collusion mode) imprisoned Y S Jagan Mohan Reddy for a significant sustained duration.
02. Initiated process for formation of a separate Telangana State, by conceding to the high intensified political movement led by the TRS Chief KCR, which witnessed an unprecedented support from a large quantum of Telangana masses.
By imprisoning Y S Jagan Mohan Reddy, the INC and TDP expected to regain, retain and sustain their political bases. Thus, the INC and TDP, which were formally Treasury batch (government) and Opposition in the AP Legislative Assembly have entered into an undisclosed hand-in-glove agreement to keep at bay Y S Jagan Mohan Reddy’s YSRCP unprecedented emergence on the AP political landscape, especially in the Coastal and Rayalaseema regions. Towards this end process, YSRCP’s prime leader Y S Jagan Mohan Reddy got imprisoned for about 13 months duration or so.
At a certain level of a point, even after the PRP’s merger into the INC; it became difficult to capture the base of voters at Coastal and Rayalaseema regions. In these areas, in various by-elections, the YSRCP performed exceptionally well by winnings different AP Legislative Assembly constituency seats. And, in these elections, the INC and TDP have lost their deposits also.
And, in the Telangana region, in the by-elections to various AP Legislative Assembly constituency seats, TRS won with a tumping majority by trespassing other political forces like the INC and TDP.
Thus, in all the three unique regions of AP, i.e., Coastal, Rayalaseema and Telangana, the INC and TDP have started to witness single anti-incumbency factor as ruling and opposition sections.
In this background, the INC and TDP had recognised and extended support to a separate Telangana state formation to save their electoral prospectus, at least partially. The INC took concrete steps in this respect and initiated the process for an independent Telangana state formation at Parliament of India level. But, TDP, though extended support to a separate Telangana state formation had played a dual role at a certain level. The TDP chief Nara Chandrababu Naidu talked in double tongue and tones in support and against the separate creation of an independent Telangana state.
Ultimately, by deciding and initiating the process towards bifurcation of AP; as AP and Telangana at Parliament of India level, the INC and TDP had expected to benefit politically, in their ways and forms. Mainly, in this direction, the INC lost hopes on the Coastal and Rayalaseema regions. Its base, in these two areas, was regained by YSRCP under Y S Jagan Mohan Reddy’s leadership at a certain level; and at a certain, another level, the initiated process towards the formation of a separate Telangana state routed its presence.
As a result of losing hopes on the Coastal and Rayalaseema regions, the INC by forming a separate Telangana state had expected to regain political power at Telangana state level after 2014 election. Towards this direction, it was also believed and rumoured that after the formation of a separate Telangana state, the TRS would merge into the INC; as a result, after 2014 election the INC would easily win the election!!
While this was the anticipated strategical plan of the INC, the TDP which was in opposition under Nara Chandrababu Naidu’s leadership had a tough time to regain and sustain base at both the Telangana and AP level; after AP’s bifurcation by the Parliament of India.
Against this background 2014 elections approached, again to the AP Legislative Assembly and the Parliament of India’s Lok Sabha constituencies. There was a complete change in the AP political atmosphere by 2014 (on a comparative basis from 2009 election). Though technically this election was held as an election to the AP Legislative Assembly; after the final election result’s declaration, two governments were scheduled to form as per the AP Reorganisation Act, 2014 as passed by the Parliament of India. As a result, electoral political atmosphere continued as per the expected two governments formations, accordingly.
No one expected any role of film stars during this 2014 election, especially in the Coastal Andhra Pradesh. During 2009 elections Coastal AP witnessed an unprecedented participation of film personalities political campaign. On the sidelines of 2009 elections at AP level, Kamma and Kapu Tollywood stars campaigned on a massive scale, on behalf of the TDP and PRP respectively. No one anticipated such large-scale participation of film stars again during this election.
But then, TDP wished to have movie stars electoral campaign, especially like those of; Nandamuri Balakrishna and Junior Nandamuri Taraka Rama Rao (Jr NTR). Though the former took part enthusiastically, the later failed to take the lead this time. This position of Jr NTR also made a few quarters of TDP to express venom against him, especially from the top TDP’s leadership.
The TDP leadership, which primarily depended on the Kamma film stars political campaign during 2009 elections; this time, due to the changed political atmosphere, remodified its electoral strategy and stretched its arms to welcome Kapu community’s film star Pawan Kalyan!! Thus, all this indicates, that the two caste’s, i.e., Kamma and Kapu, which have animosity for years together in the social and political realms have come along. The socio-political enmity of the Kamma and Kapu communities even got manifested in various domains of everyday’s life activity, like, in the political sector too; that’s one of the prime reasons behind 2009 electoral analysis.
The changed political atmosphere due to the unprecedented emergence of the YSRCP, TRS and bifurcation of AP into AP and Telangana states, respectively had made the TDP reconsider and remodify its electoral strategies. Accordingly, the TDP leadership attempted to co-opt Kapu community for electoral gain; in this direction, it saw Tollywood actor Pawan Kalyan as a potential leveraging source.
Political critics saw TDP’s extension of open arms to Pawan Kalyan as an astute political strategy; because TDP during 2014 elections cannot extend such an invitation to the PRP’s founder President and Tollywood star actor Chiranjeevi. Chiranjeevi and Pawan Kalyan should be seen not just as the film starts; but as holders of a significant base among the Kapu community. Chiranjeevi during 2014 elections was technically part and parcel of the INC and was also the sitting Union Council of Minister under the Prime Ministership of Dr Manmohan Singh. All this indicated that Chiranjeevi got benefitted a lot after the launch of PRP and even after the merger of PRP with the INC, in many forms. But, a significant proportion of those who had trusted and considered PRP’s positive prospects under Chiranjeevi’s leadership got disappointed.
At an individual level of analysis, even Pawan Kalyan, who sailed with his brother Chiranjeevi also got disappointed; because, due to the merger of PRP with the INC, only Chiranjeevi got benefitted politically and more.
The move of TDP in attempting to extend a hand and invite Pawan Kalyan, who visibly failed to get benefited from the merger of PRP with INC; is, as per the views of political critics an astute move from TDP chief Nara Chandrababu Naidu and others. This step of TDP was seen and read as attempting to co-opt a section or favourite person from the former political opponent sect, i.e., PRP and Kapu. But, what kind of political calculations pushed TDP to weigh this option of an attempt to co-opt Pawan Kalyan during 2014 elections, should also be known!!
As per political calculations, during 2014 elections, the TDP anticipated that the Kapu community’s vote bank would play a crucial role in deciding the attractive prospects of lead contesting political parties, i.e., TDP and YSRCP, in the Coastal and Rayalaseema regions of AP, after bifurcation of AP into AP and Telangana. As a result, it ensured to co-opt and play the political game through former PRP leader, famous film actor and Kapu community’s renowned personality Pawan Kalyan!!
All this indicates that popular forms of political assertions like those based on ‘caste and class’ notions have undergone a significant sea-change immediately after the 2009 general elections and that too in particular after the sudden and tragic demise of YSR. The common modes of political games and prospects existed till then have invariably reincarnated their aspirations through various forms, during a polarised political crisis.
And, Pawan Kalyan also reidentified and redefined, to some extent, his political position in this entire turbulent political phase. In a certain other sense, Pawan Kalyan’s possible playable political prospects were suggested by ‘the Other’, i.e., TDP, and he obliged with gladness to choose, incline and perform such role!!
Thus, at last, Pawan Kalyan ventured into the 2014 electoral fray on behalf of the TDP-BJP electoral alliance as a support lead campaigner.