Lakshmi Parvathi’s Role in Andhra Pradesh Politics

Lakshmi Parvathi (hereafter ‘LP’) is well known as the widow of NTR (Nandamuri Taraka Rama Rao). NTR was a successful Tollywood lead actor in his prominent first innings of life and the second innings of his life turned attention towards ‘politics’. His political entry and subsequent success were a record in the Indian political discourse on certain parameters. He was successful in ousting the Indian National Congress (INC) in Andhra Pradesh (AP) on behalf of the Telugu Desam Party (TDP). Surprisingly, within 8-9 months after the establishment of TDP, it was able to capture political power at AP range. And, NTR assumed the role of Chief Minister of AP. Thus, for the first time, a sensational political record was carved by NTR through TDP. Before NTR and TDP; the INC was able to rule AP successfully as a ‘single dominant political player’.

TDP and NTR had thrown a challenge to the ‘INC model of politics’. The ‘INC model of politics’ can be recognized by a few features, like;

01. Extension of patronage to a predominant community/caste at regional level and sustaining political base at the regional level and national level;

02. Co-option of various communities and sections;

03. Extension of Chief Ministerial position at the regional level to a powerful community;

Veteran Indian Political Scientist Rajani Kothari was the first person to coin and figure-out ‘INC model of politics’. Since then, Political Scientists acknowledged the significance of this usage in various modes of analytical discourses.

The INC model of politics also started to witness challenges from powerful land-owning communities since the end of 1960’s. Since the end of 1960’s a few agriculturally prosperous communities, especially in the North Indian zone started to capture political power by successfully launching regional political parties. The success of TDP under NTR and Kamma community’s enthusiastic patronage can also be understood in this direction only. The Kamma community tried its chances of capturing political power under the Communist Party of India (CPI), but failed in its attempts for a few decades. The subsequent success of TDP and NTR fulfilled the ambitions of the Kamma community in the political realm.

II

NTR developed a relationship with LP during his late age. LP was roughly 38 years of age when she became the second wife of NTR, and NTR was approximately 70 years old by then. The prime reasons behind NTR’s decision to (re)marry LP, hopefully, were due to;

a) his loneliness after first wife’s death

b) his children also got well settled, and they were leading their respective family lives, independently; so, there was no one to look after him at a crucial old age, when he was in desperate need of life’s companion; and

c) he was also alone without having full-fledged participation in politics for a specified duration; during this phase, he developed this relationship with LP, which ultimately led to remarriage.

This third view of opinion was primarily expressed by a senior political journalist in AP, i.e., Inuganti Venkata Rao, in one of his Interviews to a popular online web-source. This interview can be found over;

Senior Editor Inuganti Venkat Rao Exclusive Interview || Talking Politics With iDream Media

Apart from this Interview of senior political journalist Inuganti Venkat Rao, there also exists a broad range of other interviews from various persons at different points of time; who expressed and justified NTR’s remarriage with LP from the above first two points of views of expressions (i.e., a & b). For instance, one of the TDP’s prominent leaders and Member of Legislative Assembly (MLA), on a few occasions, Mr. Devineni Rajashekar (Nehru) expressed his view of opinion about NTR’s remarriage with LP from first and second versions of ideas. Devineni Nehru expressed this view in one of his big interviews to journalist Vemuri Radha Krishna on a popular television show called ‘Open Heart with RK.’ In this sequence, Devineni Nehru also recollected his association with TDP, NTR, LP, etc. in another interview;

MSR Hot Seat with Ex MLA Devineni Nehru Part 1 || No.1 News

MSR Hot Seat with Ex MLA Devineni Nehru Part 2 || No.1 News

In this version of Devineni Nehru’s Interview, he recollected and shared his association with LP and about his view of LP’s leadership aspirations, etc. In-fact, Devineni Nehru worked under LP for a brief while, as a politician and MLA.

Thus, all this indicates that NTR had his reasons to choose LP as his second wife at a crucial time of his life.

Now, coming to other perceptions and dimensions on how this remarriage of NTR and LP was perceived by various sections of society, TDP, NTR family members, etc.

First and foremost, the second remarriage of NTR with LP became a sensational news for some while. And, on the AP political scene LP became a center of attraction. There were wide range of comments, satires, opinions, etc. expressed from various vantage points across the political and social circles. But, the negative intensity over the years and days got hiked against the LP, primarily. The prime reason towards this end emanated from NTR’s family members like his sons and daughters families, etc. The focal center of attraction of NTR family in politics revolved in the form of his two son-in-laws, they were; Daggubati Venkateswara Rao & Nara Chandrababu Naidu. These two son-in-laws of NTR led their respective party groups and competitive politics. Since NTR’s remarriage with LP, which was disliked by almost all his family members; the role and actions of these two son-in-law’s became crucial and suspicious.

Thus, in a certain sense, it can be understood that the activities of NTR family members to some extent brought light to LP in the mainstream media, society, and party. It was observed and felt, that the two son-in-law’s of NTR played crucial roles in ousting him from Chief Ministerial position by showing LP as the prime reason behind such decision and action in the August, 1995 political coup!!

III

In this particular scenario, two questions might attempt to search reasonable answers; they include the following:

01. Why LP became a critical contestation point of negative attraction to the TDP leaders and caders?

02. How and why NTR son-in-laws led such a massive discontent and ousted NTR & made TDP aloof to him?

These two questions are very focused in dealing with various individuals political history under TDP. But, at present, our prime focal attention concentrates only upon LP, if required vis-a-vis other political leaders, like one’s from the NTR family.

The personal, professional, social and family background of LP was projected, seen and perceived in negative mode by various sections of society. In this sequence, a full range of negative news about LP primarily; and NTR, in general, got propagated.

A few aspects of such propagated, promoted and perceived news and opinions are as follows;

01. LP and NTR entered into an unholy martial relationship, though the former’s husband was still alive;

02. LP systematically trapped NTR; as a result, the later was under evil capture of the former;

03. The ultimate aim, goal, and target of LP would be to shift NTR & TDP under her leadership, systematically. Such suspected quality of LP could be a terrible quality of a evil spirited woman (against cherishable noble and humble qualities of women, like being subservient to the husband, etc). But, NTR was not able to realize facts correctly and was under an illusion of LP.

04. Since NTR was aging and developing health complications; the next heir to TDP would be certainly LP; this would be a significant setback to the prospects of TDP’s future, leader’s political ambitions and cader’s enthusiasm.

On the whole, the character assassination of LP went on a massive scale. Same time, there was a certain amount of confusion over the authenticity of various individual views and opinions under circulation among the mainstream media and public. Amidst of such prevalent circumstantial atmosphere, it was rumored and believed on certain grounds, that there were hands and stint of a few NTR family members in this entire scenario; towards this end, fingers were pointed out, primarily towards his son-in-law, that too in particular against Nara Chandrababu Naidu.

Nara Chandrababu Naidu, the youngest son-in-law of NTR; had a systematic personal and professional build-up. A certain part of such build-up also resulted in getting him married to NTR’s youngest daughter. After marriage with NTR’s daughter, Chandrababu Naidu had his plans and wished to be successful further in politics, first in the Indian National Congress (INC) and later by shifting his political allegiance to the family party TDP. Ultimately, he was successful in realizing his dreams and wishes under TDP over the years. The effective rolling path of Chandrababu Naidu in TDP – it was observed, rumored and believed; resulted in maintaining different kinds of strategic roles even after NTR’s remarriage with LP. Since NTR’s remarriage with LP in 1993, it was found, that particular diplomatic silence was maintained by a few NTR family members, keeping in view upcoming elections to the AP Legislative Assembly. Not only NTR family members, even parts of TDP, who were uncomfortable with NTR’s style of functioning also maintained silence for a right time to take proper decision. After massive electoral victory to TDP in December, 1994; NTR assumed the Chief Minister position of AP amidst of grandeur. But, within a few months in August, 1995 a massive political coup rebelled against NTR’s leadership and the prime reason shown towards this end was that LP was interfering in the affairs of TDP and government. There were various kinds of interpretations and views expressed at different points of time on ‘what kind of reasons and actions’ resulted in ousting NTR from the Chief Ministerial position and led to rechristening the same in favor of Nara Chandrababu Naidu. Among all such views and expressions, one of the prominent inclination was role and interference of LP in TDP and government.

IV

There developed three primary political power centers within TDP since its inception; they include NTR visibly as principal founder and first leader. Apart from NTR, at times sidetracking NTR also, another two power centers colluded and competed, they were the two son-in-laws of NTR; Dr. Daggubathi Venkateswara Rao and Nara Chandrababu Naidu.

The successful emergence of LP, as a family member of NTR, started to pose a challenge to the political power centers of his son-in-law’s. As a result, the two son-in-laws of NTR perceived LP as a threat to their political aspirations and continuation of their base in the TDP. As a result, these persons, in collusion with other NTR family members and other sources within TDP and outside TDP had masterminded to put a check to NTR & LP. This master political plot ultimately resulted in the bitter outbreak of political coup of August, 1995.

On all pragmatic, technical, legal and constitutional grounds this August, 1995 political coup was a successful one. NTR, the founder, and pride asset of TDP lost his base, primarily due to his remarriage with LP!! After this bitter, sour political coup, NTR lived only for a few months. Ultimately NTR breathed his last in January, 1996. After the sudden tragic demise of NTR, in the subsequent duration, the consolidated political base in favor of Nara Chandrababu Naidu as Chief Minister of AP and as supreme leader of TDP was established firmly.

Same time, the role and prospects of LP got diminished considerably and ultimately led to her disappearance on the political scene as a prominent political center of attraction. Thus, re-emergence of political base and centre within TDP rechristened in favor of Nara Chandrababu Naidu. The August, 1995 political coup, sidetracked, in due course of time various political power centers in TDP. All such power centers ‘existing and aspired to’ were among the family members of NTR only, like; two son-in-laws, two sons of NTR, LP as the second wife of NTR!! Among these existing and aspiring political power centers, LP got a humiliating oust, first in the form of NTR’s rejection as Chief Minister and TDP’s President, and then in the second phase by losing her political base completely in AP (after NTR’s death).

V

Thus, all this indicates that the leadership qualities of LP marched under two prime fronts, they include;

01. Since LP’s remarriage with NTR to NTR’s death, and
02. Since NTR’s death onwards;

In the first innings of LP’s political career, she was an undisclosed active insider having ability to favour and disfavour individual persons and sections by influencing NTR’s leadership decision capabilities; this role of her posed a serious check to the NTR’s son-in-laws, primarily. This inside interfering suspected nature and abilities of LP was shown, as one of the prime reasons for ousting NTR from TDP in August, 1995.

The prominent and direct role of LP started since NTR’s death in January, 1996. And, her active political career went-on during 1996-1999. Thus, though the direct leadership qualities of LP started to bud since 1996-1999, ultimately her leadership failed to blossom.

After NTR’s death, LP led a new political outfit in the form of NTR-TDP; the original TDP as established by NTR, after August, 1995 political coup, as per the Election Commission of India (ECI) guidelines was recognised as a separate and original entity under the leadership of Nara Chandrababu Naidu. There was a tussle between NTR led TDP, and Nara Chandrababu Naidu led TDP sections over TDP assets and party symbol, etc. Ultimately, the ECI favoured and proclaimed verdict that all the assets, party symbol, etc. would be allocated to the TDP led by Nara Chandrababu Naidu as President. This ECI decision was seen as a humiliation by NTR-TDP section. Ultimately, NTR-TDP emerged as a separate political sect. After NTR’s death, LP led this NTR-TDP as a forefront leader. LP was able to become Member of Legislative Assembly (MLA) of AP after NTR’s death. Her role in the AP Legislative Assembly as MLA can also be analysed separately and in combination with the wider AP political discourse.

During the summer of 1996, Lok Sabha general elections held. Participation in this election was a first and prime challenge to the NTR-TDP to face and prove. The ultimate result of 1996 Lok Sabha elections was bitter and led to almost closer of NTR-TDP. During this election campaign and since 1995 August political coup onwards LP started to brand and accuse Nara Chandrababu Naidu as a cheater and traitor and pleaded the voters to reject the false TDP under Nara Chandrababu Naidu’s leadership and extend patronage to her NTR-TDP outfit!!

On the other side, Nara Chandrababu Naidu’s election campaign, role, activism, etc. as Chief Minister and as President of TDP started to get well consolidated. Nara Chandrababu Naidu had an active base from ground level with full leaders and cadre presence, support from Kamma community, financial viability, a significant media support, a section of NTR family member’s patronage, etc.

LP as leader of NTR-TDP failed to project and build a proper political base, on pragmatic grounds; instead, she showed an individual (Nara Chandrababu Naidu) as a traitor and sought political support. LP failed to carve political space, even when opposition party INC was weak in AP, which witnessed a humiliating massive defeat in 1994 general election to the AP Legislative Assembly.

At a certain point in time, a comparative analysis of LP and Nara Chandrababu Naidu’s leadership qualities need analysis; because LP attempted to pose a challenge to the Nara Chandrababu Naidu led TDP. And, Nara Chandrababu Naidu led TDP also faced and dealt with LP led TDP. The final result oriented in favour of Nara Chandrababu Naidu’s leadership and LP led NTR-TDP started to vanish from the AP political scene entirely.

NTR-TDP under LP’s leadership failed to grab a significant vote share either from INC or TDP led by Nara Chandrababu Naidu. At the same time, this outfit cannot dare to have an electoral alliance with INC also; because TDP’s birth took place as an anti outfit to INC!! Thus, on all pragmatic sides, NTR-TDP under LP’s leadership failed to carve a niche on the AP political scene. But, at some point in time LP wished to have an electoral alliance with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). She even got succeed in posting an alliance with BJP during 1998 mid-term Lok Sabha elections. But, the terms and conditions of this partnership were unsatisfactory to NTR-TDP with regard to seats sharing. Ultimately, this electoral allied union of BJP & NTR-TDP failed to secure electoral victory.

The long-standing leadership qualities and role of Nara Chandrababu Naidu, primarily since his college days as a student leader and then as a full-fledged politician under INC and TDP frayed well in sustaining his base after August, 1995 political coup and subsequent NTR’s death. But, one of the prime negative qualities and features of Nara Chandrababu Naidu was lack of oratory skill. On the other side, LP was blessed abundantly with oratory skills but lacked other practical expertise and resources like; long-standing political experience, lack of money on a comparative basis, proper base and support from the ground level, etc. Thus, ultimately, the political scene tilted in favour of Nara Chandrababu Naidu’s leadership in capturing and sustaining his base in TDP.

LP lost in both cases, in the first, as an inside influencer of politics as the wife of NTR and later as leader of NTR-TDP.

The final AP Legislative Assembly results of 1999 routed NTR-TDP completely.

Thus, LP lost her political base in the two phases, as mentioned above.

VI

But, in the subsequent duration, after a few years, LP started to appear on the AP political scene, now and then, as a countering opponent to the TDP (especially to the Nara Chandrababu Naidu leadership and to a few NTR family members). This new role appeared as a useful revenge source to the opposition parties, like Yuvajana Shramika Rythu Congress Party (YSRCP).

This new avatar of LP can be seen and analysed as; taking ultimate revenge against TDP and NTR family which humiliated her. But, her actions continue under the guise as taking a politically right stand against malicious, untrustworthy Nara Chandrababu Naidu and other NTR family members!!By posting as taking a politically correct position; she is favouring the opposition political parties and fulfilling personal revenge!!

Thus, her present leadership, which had two unsuccessful phases previously, under TDP and NTR-TDP; started to have another phase which assists the opposition parties, primarily YSRCP. She is at present an active participant of YSRCP activities, as a regular Party member.

LP was not in a position to forge a pragmatic electoral alliance as leader of NTR-TDP during 1990’s, especially with INC, due to a prevalent political stance. That’s an understandable position in those days. But, LP after ceasing to be the leader of NTR-TDP started to pose a pragmatic ‘resonating-alliance’ with the opposition parties like YSRCP. The prime reason behind this new found alliance is based on; common enemies of TDP were becoming friends, i.e., YSRCP & LP!! This new political strategy is a shadow political step of LP taken not as a leader of NTR-TDP, but on personal grounds!!

Advertisements

Perceptions over Chiranjeevi’s First Phase of Political Innings

Chiranjeevi entered politics as a leading Tollywood star in the year 2008. He chose and opted to enter politics when his professional career in the Tollywood started to continue in a slow mode. There were three varied opinions made and making air among the public; why and how Chiranjeevi chose to venture into the political career? They are as follow;

01. The enthusiastic chanting slogans of Chiranjeevi’s fans since 1990’s end or early 2000 decade onwards as ‘future Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh’; exposure to such kind of atmosphere from fans and others must have developed and installed aspirations and ego to enter into politics and prove himself!!

02. Though Chiranjeevi, his family, and his community-acquired large scale fame through Tollywood in the Telugu and Indian society; in reality, such popularity resulted in bringing some problems in society too from a few established families and persons, like from those in politics, etc. Hence, he visualized that having a successful venture and sustenance in politics can shift edge in his favor, which again can result in producing tangible results to him, his family, his people/community, etc.

03. And, the last, but not the least; having acquired and witnessed satisfactory innings in life through Tollywood; must have made himself to realize and gain another level of competent innings in society and politics. Thus, he must have opted to enter politics to have next level of strong innings.

Critics looked at this third dimension from human beings inbuilt desire to acquire and experience one desire after the other in a sequential mode as per the personal calling and aspirations. Anyhow, this last and third level of aspiration can also be seen and understood independently or in relation to the above other two factors.

II

But, the ultimate question comes to the focus is; how to understand his political entry and how to judge his abilities and capabilities in this domain?

Chiranjeevi launched Praja Rajyam Party (PRP) just before nine months to go for elections to the Andhra Pradesh Legislative Assembly and Lok Sabha constituencies. This step of him was seen as an aspirational desire to break the record of Nandamuri Taraka Rama Rao (NTR), the founder of the Telugu Desam Party (TDP) who established and captured Chief Ministerial position in nine months after the establishment of TDP!! But, Chiranjeevi rejected such observations and claimed not to interlink and perceive real life and political things with ‘film breaking records type’!!?? Thus, he pleaded, in interactions to the media that such observations of attempting to break the records of NTR & TDP were entirely false and unfair equations.

Even before the launching of PRP by Chiranjeevi much positive uproar was aired in the mainstream media and society that the Andhra Pradesh polity and society may march towards an unprecedented trend; putting a check to the much dominant Reddy & Kamma castes in politics. Towards this direction, a few started to visualize this pattern and shift from PRP/Chiranjeevi & Kapus as a step towards achieving and bringing social justice.

Those who aspired that a change may creep-in with the launch of PRP and Chiranjeevi under Kapu’s majoritarian vote bank and resources expected that marginalized communities like Scheduled Castes (SC’s), Scheduled Tribes (ST’s), Backward Classes (BC’s), etc. may get adequate space in this new discourse. But, such aspirations, in reality, got shattered. There was a wide range of acquisitions and allegations that the PRP under Chiranjeevi’s leadership turned out to be another mainstream political party, without bringing any alternative political culture. Towards this ends, a wide range of allegations was made, like that the PRP leadership sold out party constituencies tickets to wealthy and powerful sections; betraying ‘social justice’ principle.

Chiranjeevi before and after launching of PRP made statements prominently that his PRP’s sole goal was to bring about ‘social justice.’ Thus, ‘Social Justice’ became a caption of PRP. And, masses aired expectations from such vantage points only. Ultimately, a full range of discontent ventilated by those who believed that PRP failed to stand up to the expectations of the ‘social justice’ principle. Media prominently covered such dissatisfaction.

Thus, from this blog post, it can be noted that in the first category, a few sections had an objective reading of what factors must have driven Chiranjeevi to consider political entry. In the second subsequent turn, after the launch of PRP, how masses got dissatisfied with their perceived breach of ‘social justice’ principle.

Thus, all this indicates, that the masses possess an objective and subjective reading of high profile persons and ultimately develop their ‘justification‘ in analysing them in relation to projected and promoted ideas and actions.

Note: This blog post can be read along with/in relation to a few other previous blog posts posted on this blog, like;

Tollywood Lead Actors’ and Political Aspirations: An Outlook into Three Generations

First Phase of Innings: Acting and Political Dynamics of Chiranjeevi & Pawan Kalyan

Kapu’s Dual Edged Aspirations

Chief Ministerial Position: A Recognistion of Caste Domination

 

National Seminar on ‘Politics of Inclusion: Empowering Minorities in India’

The Department of Political Science, University of Hyderabad organized and hosted a National Seminar on ‘Politics of Inclusion: Empowering Minorities in India,’ during September 5-6, 2017.

On the sidelines of this National Seminar, I had presented a Paper entitled ‘Political Strategies and Deliberations over Muslim Backward Classes Inclusion: The Distinctive Case in Andhra Pradesh & Telangana.’ The abstract of this Paper is as follows;

Abstract

The Concepet Note of this National Seminar is as follows;

Politics of Inclusion

The tentative Programme Schedule of this National Seminar is as follows;

Programme schedule of Minority Politics

Mohammed Ghouse, Post Doctoral Fellow, Department of Political Science, University of Hyderabad was the prime source behind organising this National Seminar. But, technically the credit was acknowledged under Sri Chandrasekhara Rao as Convenor of this National Seminar.

 

Jr NTR in Politics: An Uncertain Trajectory

Jr NTR (Junior Nandamuri Taraka Rama Rao), one of the top leading heroes in the Tollywood developed political aspirations since 2009 onwards. His political innings started from this 2009 general election to the Andhra Pradesh Legislative Assembly & Lok Sabha constituencies onwards. His inclination towards film industry had innings during 1990’s as a child artist. Since the starting of 2000’s decade, his entry into Tollywood as fullfledged lead actor confirmed and he was successful in the subsequent years in this sector. At times, a few film industry leaders and critics also expected that he might become a leading star in Tollywood. But, at present, as per wide knowledge and observation; Pawan Kalyan & Mahesh Babu stood as successful top lead actors in Tollywood. Even though, Pawan Kalyan and Mahesh Babu rose to acknowledged lead actors position on various parameters; yet, a few critics favor Jr NTR as a top most lead actor in the entire Tollywood, based on his acting capability criteria. Thus, to judge and confirm as successful lead actors requires various yard stick parameters’ like the success rate of movies, the craze among fans, acting performance, etc.

The real name of Jr NTR is unknown. He acquired the present name as Jr NTR, through his grand father Nandamuri Taraka Rama Rao’s (NTR) intervention during 1990’s. Jr NTR’s grand-father NTR was a successful Tollywood lead actor and one of founder members of the Telugu Desam Party (TDP). His grand father NTR gave his name to this Jr NTR. As a result, it became a norm to distinguish him from his grandfather by adding a suffix ‘Jr’.

Jr NTR’s biological father happens to be Nandamuri Hari Krishna. But, it’s unclear, whether proper wedding took between Jr NTR’s father and mother. Because, Jr NTR’s dad Nandamuri Harikrishna was formally married and had an excellent family set-up with children, etc. But, somehow, a relationship developed and continued even after Nandamuri Hari Krishna’s marriage, and ultimately Jr NTR was born.

On the whole, Jr NTR sincerely and honestly, at various points of time, has been acknowledging the role and prominence of Sr NTR (i.e., his grand father) in his life’s changed prospects. In his view, had Sr NTR not changed his name; his fate would have been entirely different, certainly not in the present prospective condition. Apart from Sr NTR’s significance in his life, there is another person in Jr NTR’s life who deserves utmost significance, i.e., his mother. Having got betrayed by Jr NTR’s father Nandamuri Hari Krishna, and failing to get any recognition, expect humiliation by Nandamuri Hari Krishna’s family; she got resolved to turn her son into a recognizable person. Towards this end, she took many conscious steps. At last, as per her dream and wish, Jr NTR was able to occupy a unique position in the society, through Tollywood.

Interestingly, after Jr NTR acquired an extraordinary position in the Telugu society through his strong innings in Tollywood; the intensity of discrimination and humiliation faced by him and his mother, from Nandamuri family members, also started to recede to some extent. But not to the fullest extent. There were open remarks and observations in the mainstream media; how Jr NTR and his mother were humiliated even after Jr NTR’s rise to celebrity position by the Nandamuri family members.

Thus, Jr NTR had his first innings in life from discrimination and humiliation background. From such humble and disadvantaged position, he rose to an extraordinary celebrity position in Tollywood. His first successful innings in Tollywood made him to venture into another domain of mainstream society, i.e., politics.

II

TDP faced an intense political situation with the launch of Praja Rajyam Party (PRP) a few months before the 2009 general elections. Such polarised political situation pushed TDP leadership into crisis. TDP, a predominant Kamma caste party, perceived a kind of threat to its political stability and prospectus with the launch of PRP under the leadership of Tollywood’s celebrated actor Chiranjeevi. Thus, to counter film celebrity oriented PRP’s venture into the 2009 electoral fray TDP had lured and rolled a few film personalities from Tollywood, that too from Kamma community, as a counter balance; these Tollywood Kamma lead actors were, Nandamuri Balakrishna and Jr NTR. Nandamuri Balakrishna happens to be Jr NTR’s uncle (i.e., father’s brother) and youngest son of Sr NTR.

In fact, the 2009 general election witnessed an unprecedented film celebrities participation from both the Kamma and Kapu communities. On behalf of TDP, Nandamuri Balakrishna and Jr NTR campaigned. And, on the other side, in favor of PRP, Chiranjeevi family and extended family members ventured into the electoral battle scene; these included Pawan Kalyan, Ram Charan Teja, Allu Arjun, etc.

As per a few observations and judgments; among all the film celebrities ventured and campaigned during 2009 general election, Jr NTR proved himself on certain grounds. Jr NTR’s election campaigns started from the North Coastal Andhra Pradesh zone onwards; had witnessed an unprecedented and sustained crowd attendance. At last, the final election verdict resulted offering the political throne to the Indian National Congress (INC) at Andhra Pradesh and Lok Sabha range.

Anyhow, the electoral alliance of TDP with other political parties during 2009 election fared well and captured substantive vote bank.

During the electoral campaign of 2009 Jr NTR was able to demonstrate and prove his extraordinary oratory skills, as a lead campaigner. Other lead campaigners of TDP like Nara Chandrababu Naidu and Nandamuri Balakrishna lacked this quality. The proven oratory skill and fruitful election campaigns of Jr NTR, which witnessed considerable crowds, in a certain sense brought a new arsenal to the TDP. But, the reality ‘is and was’ different, in sustaining and using this new arsenal by the TDP.

Since 2009 election time onwards TDP Chief Nara Chandrababu Naidu’s son entry into politics also confirmed in some sense, though not formally seen amidst of crowds and party functions. From this election onwards, while posing electoral alliances with other political parties due to multi party contestation and using various persons and resources; Nara Chandrababu Naidu started to give and acknowledge that his son Nara Lokesh was an intelligent person and well suitable for serving the people through politics. Towards this direction, Nara Chandrababu Naidu had revealed that one of the TDP’s election manifesto’s promise of ‘direct cash transfer to the unemployed youth’ was a brainchild project of his son, who studied and returned from the USA. Thus, in a certain sense, while using and bringing many persons and resources into the TDP; Chandrababu’s prominent project and acknowledgments were different, they stood in favor of his son Nara Lokesh. It would be interesting to note here; though Nara Chandrababu Naidu has been acknowledging his son’s superiority in many ways and forms than him and others; in reality, Nara Lokesh never proven his skills or other abilities and capabilities so far!!

After completion of 2009 election campaign; Jr NTR never stood prominently and figured-out in the TDP’s activities. This phase of failing to provide proper acknowledged space to Jr NTR in TDP was attributed, by critics and others, that Nara Chandrababu Naidu was not interested in projecting Jr NTR prominently more than his son. And, it was felt, that Nara Chandrababu Naidu would be interested in utilizing the services of Jr NTR to the best of his and TDP’s interests. Thus, it became implied that Jr NTR was expected to render his service as and when required by TDP and wished so by Nara Chandrababu Naidu.

Since completion of 2009 election onwards, expect Jr NTR; other family members like Nandamuri Balakrishna and Nara Lokesh have started to occupy new spaces and positions in TDP. Thus, Jr NTR began to witness renewed and extended new phase of discrimination and humiliation in his second life innings in politics, particularly from his extended family members, whom he trusted this time.

In a few months, after the 2009 election result; the entire political picture in Andhra Pradesh started to witness high-level volatile turns and shifts with the passing away of Dr. Y S Rajashekara Reddy (YSR). YSR ascended the Chief Minister position for a second consecutive term on behalf of the Indian National Congress (INC).

The TDP, which fared well as part of 2009 electoral alliance by garbing substantive vote bank and seats started to feel jitters passing in oppositive direction; as its perceived and calculated vote base began to recede in a fasting changing political atmosphere. All this happened due to the sudden rise of Y S Jagan Mohan Reddy, primarily in the Coastal and Rayalaseema regions and Telangana Rastra Samithi (TRS) under K Chandrashekar Rao (KCR) in the Telangana region.

TDP, which felt faring well in 2009 election results, amidst of multi party contestation; started to lose confidence. In addition to the above factors of threat from Y S Jagan Mohan Reddy and TRS rise; the PRP under the leadership of Chiranjeevi declared and confirmed its merger with INC. Thus, though PRP started to disappear from the political scene; other active forces began to emerge, like YSRCP under Y S Jagan Mohan Reddy and TRS under KCR.

III

Ultimately, by 2014 general election time, a clear picture ascended on the Andhra Pradesh Political scene; YSRCP and TRS have emerged as formidable political forces. And, Andhra Pradesh was bifurcated through an act of Parliament of India as; residual Andhra Pradesh and Telangana State.

By 2014 election time; Jr NTR somehow failed to jump into the election campaign on behalf of the TDP, though TDP wished to have him by taking a leadership position. What factors must have transpired into this whole mishap were unknown. But, a few things of possible misunderstandings between Jr NTR and TDP leadership, etc. made rounds in the public and media. They included: that Jr NTR aspired to have a wider prominent role in TDP which may side track Nara Chandrababu Naidu and his family, and TDP seeking and joining into an electoral agreement with former PRP Kapu leader and Tollywood lead actor Pawan Kalyan, etc. factors. (the presence of Pawan Kalyan as a lead campaigner for TDP-BJP electoral alliance, on behalf of his newly floated Jana Sena Party – JSP; also must have made Jr NTR uncomfortable. Because during 2009 election for TDP led electoral alliance Jr NTR was a lead campaigner from Tollywood, as a young hero).

On the whole, it appeared, that the TDP leadership failed to deal with Jr NTR on all possible pragmatic parameters. The media, especially pro Kamma and TDP, had shown during this time, Jr NTR in a negative shade, for failing to extend a helping hand to TDP when it was in bitter crisis, by taking lead role in the election campaign. This negative projection of Jr NTR by media in 2014 was entirely different from 2009 which praised him positively.

Finally, during this 2014 election time, TDP was able to rely much upon former PRP and Kapu leader Pawan Kalyan. Pawan Kalyan’s Tollywood fame also contributed well in this entire exercise. Ultimately, as a surprise twist to many, TDP won the 2014 election and formed the government under the leadership of Nara Chandrababu Naidu as Chief Minister in the Andhra Pradesh region. But, TDP failed to capture political power in the Telangana region. The wide range of following political commentary, in analyzing the success of TDP in the Andhra Pradesh region has attributed Pawan Kalyan from Kapu community as a lead factor.

Anyhow, Jr NTR chose to attend the swearing-in-ceremony of Nara Chandrababu Naidu as Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh, along with his step-brother Nandamuri Kalyan Ram. In-fact, it should be noted, that from Nandamuri Hari Krishna family; though Jr NTR did not campaign for TDP in 2014 election, his another step-brother Nandamuri Kalyan Ram took an active step by assisting and following his uncle Nandamuri Balakrishna in the election campaign. Thus, this proves, Nandamuri Hari Krishna family members are playing different political tricks with TDP and Nara Chandrababu Naidu leadership, based on various requirements and political calculations. And, Nara Chandrababu Naidu and TDP are no exceptions from their side too. Jr NTR, who has potential abilities and capabilities on certain grounds, as a leading film star and proven track record of orator skills with crowd pulling and sustaining base has his undisclosed political calculations, so far. But, it is clear as of now, that Jr NTR’s wishes and plans are running in an entirely different mode while dealing with TDP’s present leadership over the past few years.

Both sides, TDP leadership under Nara Chandrababu Naidu and Jr NTR have their political aspirations and calculations. After 2009 general election campaign completion onwards these two forces are failing to strike a mutually beneficial chord for political benefits. Hence, how these forces will deal with politics should be seen in future.

In this entire scenario, as of now, Jr NTR is ‘failing and unable to’ carve a niche in his favor in the Andhra Pradesh political discourse. His political aspirations and expectations can only get a space within TDP, under two possible circumstances. They include the following;

01. If TDP plunges into deep crisis and seek his leadership position to lead, or
02. If a section of TDP seeks his leadership, etc.

But, the present TDP leadership, under Nara Chandrababu Naidu and his family won’t tolerate seeing such a political drift. And, in reality, it would be difficult to Jr NTR also to get support from Kamma community or/and TDP masses and leaders to lead a small fraction, which may tantamount to dismantling their strengths, ultimately which might shift edge in favor of rival political forces like under Reddy’s, etc.!! Thus, as of now, Jr NTR is unable to find a possible and suitable space for himself in the Andhra Pradesh political geography.

Tollywood Lead Actors’ and Political Aspirations: An Outlook into Three Generations

Tollywood’s one of the most celebrated stars Chiranjeevi ventured into politics in the year 2008 by floating a political party, named as ‘Praja Rajyam Party’ (PRP). But, unfortunately, though he started this PRP amidst of much fanfare and expectations, the ultimate result concerning performance in the immediately scheduled elections of 2009 and regarding running PRP on professional lines was an utter failure.

It would be surprising to see, observe and note; how this film actor started to aspire and develop an inclination towards this political discourse. His acquired fame in Tollywood and craze among frenzy fans, in particular among the Coastal Andhra Pradesh Kapu’s is noted to be the prime reason behind developing this inclination and aspiration.

II

In-fact, in addition to Chiranjeevi, another actor from Tollywood and Kamma community, i.e., Nandamuri Balakrishna also had this kind of same record; in terms of inclination and aspiration towards politics. But, this star’s position is entirely different in an absolute sense, on a comparative basis with Chiranjeevi. Nandamuri Balakrishna was the youngest son of former Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh, i.e., Nandamuri Taraka Rama Rao (NTR), who was successful on the plank of Telugu Desam Party (TDP), as its first founder. NTR also professionally belonged to Tollywood and acquired fame in this Tinsel world. His well-acquired fame in the Tinsel world; his Kamma community’s backup; prevalent political position in AP, when TDP was established, etc. factors well contributed to the successful venture of TDP. As a result, immediately after TDP’s establishment, it was able to assume AP’s political power within a record duration of nine months!! But, in due course of time, though NTR happened to be a popular leader in AP; he lost his position in TDP in various forms, due to some unexpected twists and turns. When NTR was alive, he declared that his political heir to TDP would be his youngest son Nandamuri Balakrishna, who was also well recognized in Tollywood as a lead actor.

Thus, it sounds that NTR in a certain sense had a belief that among all his family members only his youngest son from Tollywood would be able to take the reins of TDP. But, the time has its discourse. TDP’s leadership was captured by NTR’s son-in-law Nara Chandrababu Naidu, albeit in a bitter political coup, along with the support of other family members, including NTR’s son’s.

NTR passed away within a few months after he was ousted from TDP. And a few had seen his death as a result of bitter insult faced due to oust from TDP in an unceremonious and unexpected form.

The post-NTR’s death scenario witnessed his son-in-law, Nara Chandrababu Naidu assuming a predominant position in TDP and Andhra Pradesh politics. The opposition party and its role were limited for certain duration of time in AP, due to various factors. Thus, there sounded to had some political vacuum unfilled. And, amongst all elements, the TDP’s Chief and AP Chief Minister Nara Chandrababu was seen as a less charismatic leader without traditional base and support from ground and masses. Though Nara Chandrababu Naidu got established as the leader of TDP and as Chief Minister of AP, he lacked some few qualities; like orator skills, mass appeals, etc.

From this point onwards, one should note, that a few fanatic film star fans from Coastal Andhra Pradesh started to express their desire to see their admired film stars as Chief Minister of AP. As per various critical observations, such fans emerged from a few caste’s, primarily from; Kamma and Kapu. These two castes fanatic fans started to perceive and assert that their Tinsel hero’s Nandamuri Balakrishna and Chiranjeevi would be suitable to become Chief Minister of AP. This fan’s enthusiasm indicates that Kamma caste people started to associate and identify themselves with Nandamuri Balakrishna and Kapu caste people began to perceive Chiranjeevi as their idol, who also should become Chief Minister of AP, as per their wish. This polarised film hero’s fans enthusiasm resembled competitive caste atmosphere prevalent in some areas of AP.

This whole scenario echoed; that a few castes’ in society started to perceive that their Tinsel world hero can also be a real actor in politics. In fact, the success of NTR in politics was attributed to this kind of line of observation; as his fan’s perceived him as a real lead fame in politics.

Finally, Nandamuri Balakrishna always acted and projected himself as a permanent member of TDP, which was launched by his father NTR (albeit without having any party membership also!!). This kind of observative statements in politics from Nandamuri Balakrishna was seen by a few, in negative mode; like how political ideology can be asserted based on family, caste and biological legacy rather than strict ideological commitments? The active venture of Chiranjeevi into politics through PRP since 2008 onwards, made TDP chief Nara Chandrababu Naidu to project his brother-in-law and NTR’s son Nandamuri Balakrishna as one of the lead election campaigners.

Thus, though Nandamuri Balakrishna was one of the aspirants for Chief Ministerial position, he had his logical and convincing reasons to reconsider ‘when and how’ to claim such position. On the whole, it became apparent in TDP’s future history that Nandamuri Balakrishna will be seen, as one of the Party’s active leaders; but not in the Chief Ministerial Position. Thus, in a certain sense, Nadamuri Balakrishna also got used and adjusted to this ‘position’ that he won’t be able to become Chief Minister of AP, hopefully. Yet, Nandamuri Balakrishna is continuing his political association with TDP on active mode and serving the Party.

III

But, on the whole, as per my observation so far; we can conclude that Tollywood mass heroes have failed to fulfill their aspirations of capturing and sustaining their ‘star position’ in the form of Chief Ministerial Position in real political discourse. Only NTR was able to continue in this post for a while. But, even NTR’s oust from TDP was read as his failure in guessing and taking corrective measure in his favor to sustain his position, which should be a prime concern and quality of a politician. Since he lacked such qualities; a few observed that he failed to inherit the qualities of a ‘real politician.’

Apart from these above discussed actor-cum-politicians failure in becoming Chief Minister’s of AP (primarily, Chiranjeevi & Nandamuri Balakrishna); there also emerged another two film persons at present aspiring in this direction (third generation). While all the above-discussed actor-cum-politicians can be categorized under the first and second generation aspirants; NTR as first generation & Chiranjeevi and Nandamuri Balakrishna under second generation respectively; there emerged another third generation heroes’ from these two castes gain, i.e., Kamma and Kapu.

These third generation lead actors-cum-politicians are; Pawan Kalyan from Kapu caste and Junior Nandamuri Taraka Rama Rao (Jr NTR) from Kamma community. The role, prospectus, and dynamics of these third generation lead actor’s political aspirations should be seen separately on various parameters. By the way, Jr NTR happens to be a grandson of NTR and Pawan Kalyan has already established a political party named as ‘Jana Sena Party’ (JSP). And, both these third generation film stars political entry and activism started since 2009 election onwards, albeit in various folds. Thus, in a certain sense, these two third generation lead actors-cum-politicians are also unable to capture the position of Chief Minister of AP, so far!!

First Phase of Innings: Acting and Political Dynamics of Chiranjeevi & Pawan Kalyan

In the South Indian Tollywood, Chiranjeevi and Pawan Kalyan have captured a unique place as successful lead actors. Though these two leading actors also happen to be biological brothers; yet there exists a considerable age gap between them, at a range of almost close to 17 years or so. First, Chiranjeevi ventured into the Tollywood as a trained actor from Chennai, where Tollywood headquartered in those days. Chiranjeevi chose to migrate from his native East Godavari district in the Coastal Andhra Pradesh to Tamil Nadu’s capital city Madras (later-on renamed as Chennai), as part of pursuing his well aspired and cherished career in the Tollywood. As per his admired ambition, he was able to become a successful and established lead actor in Tollywood within a short duration and was able to continue the same position, since then. In his initial years of professional career, Chiranjeevi used to be very busy as an actor by almost simultaneously acting in various films. Somehow, in due course of Chiranjeevi’s professional career, his other family members also started to venture into this field, especially his two brothers; one among them happens to be younger brother Pawan Kalyan.

It was noted on a few platforms that Chiranjeevi has nurtured the career of Pawan Kalyan to some extent by providing him training in acting at a professional trainer at Visakhapatnam, Andhra Pradesh. Thus, both Chiranjeevi and Pawan Kalyan entered Tollywood as trained actors and were successful also in due course of time. When seen from the educational background; Chiranjeevi happens to be little more educated than his younger brother Pawan Kalyan.

Pawan Kalyan, in a certain observable sense, entred Tollywood at a time when Chiranjeevi’s film career started to witness a slow motion, during the end of 1990’s. Most film and lay observers opined that Pawan Kalyan was fortunate enough to have continuous hit movies. In fact, in Pawan Kalyan’s professional career in Tollywood, so far, he has very less unsuccessful films. The parameter chosen to consider this success of Pawan Kalyan’s films stood at ‘less loss to the movies produced and released.’ Thus, almost all the producers must have been glad to have produced films under his lead character roles.

And, on other parameters, when judged, these two brothers, over the years, were able to sustain their base, though at times the film sector was under intense crisis. Not only these two brothers, but even their other family and extended family members in this Tollywood industry were also able to sustain and grow in various forms and folds. In addition to this observation, critics also noted that most of the Kapu caste actors, to which these two brothers belong to, also ventured into this sector and grown. And, in this direction, it was prominently observed and noted that Chiranjeevi’s acquired prominent position in Tollywood helped a lot in this sequential end’s realization. Thus, Chiranjeevi in a certain sense has a respectable and acknowledged honor among various sections of Tollywood, and one such section also happens to emanate from his caste, i.e., Kapu. In fact, a few critics well noted that the successful emergence of Chiranjeevi in the Tollywood had put an end to the sole domination of Kamma community, which enjoyed till then. Thus, inherently caste dynamics were present in this entire Tollywood industry for long.

II

The political entry of Chiranjeevi, primarily, was seen, by a few sections of society, as an extended desire to bring success to the Kapu caste, from his side, through newly floated political party ‘Praja Rajyam Party’ (PRP) in 2008. Both the family and extended family members of Chiranjeevi actively stood beside him during this phase of PRP election campaign. In the initial phase of this PRP electoral campaign activity, much crowd attended meetings. This crowding pulling capacity of PRP and Chiranjeevi was analyzed in various modes. But, in due course of time, PRP’s prospectus seemed to have diminished considerably. Ultimately, when PRP contested 2009 Lok Sabha and Andhra Pradesh Legislative Assembly elections; the result was heartening than expected. At last, on the whole, it was recognized and acknowledged that the PRP, on the whole, was able to garner only around 18% vote share or so. And, this 18% vote share was attributed to have emanated from the Kapu community.

Among all the family and extended family members, Chiranjeevi’s younger brother Pawan Kalyan got highlighted in the mainstream media due to various reasons; like due to opposition party’s satirically posed serious comments and allegations over his personal life and more. Pawan Kalyan, PRP and Chiranjeevi family and extended family, in certain sense took corrective measures towards this end. Thus, this indicates that the opposition has succeeded in its satirically posed serious observations and allegations. From this stage onwards, Pawan Kalyan’s personal and professional integration started to get exposed, prominently. And, Pawan Kalyan was also seen drastically quite the opposite from his other family members.

In due course of time, Chiranjeevi has realized that he was unable to run the PRP. As a result, PRP was merged into the Indian National Congress (INC).

The merger of PRP with INC brought to the forefront various political and social commentary on various platforms. One of the major critical allegation was that Chiranjeevi had sold his PRP, in the form of merger with INC, due to a drastically changed political situation in the Andhra Pradesh political scene. A few sections, which vote and patronaged PRP and Chiranjeevi’s leadership got disappointed and ventilated their anger openly, in various modes like at times in a harsh manner too.

As a result of PRP’s merger with INC, Chiranjeevi was offered Rajya Sabha membership by the INC and got inducted into the Union Council of Ministers headed by Manmohan Singh as Prime Minister. This step also brought some negative response from a few sections of society, that only Chiranjeevi was able to benefit by launching and merging PRP with INC, politically; since his political career continued under INC.

One of the most disappointed section over the failure of PRP and subsequent merger with INC was Kapu community, as per critics observations.

On the whole, with the merger of PRP with INC, the first active phase of Chiranjeevi and Pawan Kalyan’s political career got a curtain closed.

But, both of them are still visible as film actors and leading politicians in the next continued second phase under INC and Jana Sena Party (JSP). JSP was established by Pawan Kalyan in the year 2014, taking into consideration scheduled elections to the Lok Sabha and Andhra Pradesh Legislative Assembly. Though JSP failed to contest in this election, it extended full-fledged active support to the TDP-BJP alliance. This second post-2014 election innings of these two brother’s needs another exploration.

.

Kapu’s Dual Edged Aspirations

‘Kapu’ is one of the most well recongised and believed to be numerically largest caste group in the Telugu Region of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana. Though the word ‘Kapu’ appears to be a monolithic identity, in reality, and in practical coinage, this term differs largely in meaning and usage. Because the ‘Kapu’ identity is master minded and projected for two prime dual edged benefits over the years. Critics in social sciences, media, society, etc observed and well noted that the present usage of the caste ‘Kapu’ is meant and used in the context of bringing and projecting various inherently allied sub-communities under this single ambit for acheiving two prime focal targetted goals. By attempting to pose as a monolithic identity, under a single caste ‘Kapu’, all the other collaborating and conjoining sections, groups, communities and castes numerical strength gets hiked on an abundant scale. As a result, this caste can be recognised as a numerically predominant force. Thus, such acquired numerical strength, may hopefully result in bringing certain desired benefits, especially in relation to two prime focused targets over the years.

These two targetted goals are related to; one, achieving Backward Classes (BC) status for better economic prospects and advancement; and the second, relates to capturing of much coveted ‘Political Power in the form of occupying Chief Ministerial Position’. Please refer one of my previous blog-posts; which portrays how and why certain castes and communities believe and aspire to capture Chief Ministerial Position (Chief Ministerial Position: A Recognistion of Caste Domination).

When looked at Kapu community’s dual edged aspiration; these two aspirations, stands in some sort distinctly unique, when compared to other predominant communities like ‘Reddy and Kamma’.

As per my personal observation and dialogical exchanges, which I had at various points of time, with various recognisable persons on this field of ‘caste politics of coastal Andhra Pradesh’; Kapu community’s aspirations are not able to get positive acceptance from various sections of the society and political class due to inherently present and evolving dynamics.

For instance, though Kapu community claims to have backward sections within its fold and seeks BC reservation; such claims and aspirations are highly contested by various sections of the society, by putting forward how and why Kapu community doesn’t deserve BC reservation, as a whole. In this sequence, it was also highly pointed-out, various previous instances of proven track records. Yet, this community is not giving-up this aspirational claim to get inducted under the BC category.

And, on the second edge, related to capturing of political power by occupying the position of Chief Minister. Though Kapu community is recognised as a predominant caste force on par with Reddy’s and Kamma’s, by certain sections; so far this community has failed to hone it’s collective political caliber. In this sequence, we can observe, for instance, that this community has failed to negotiate well with the Indian National Congress (INC) leadership and capture the Chief Ministerial position (INC has an established tradition of giving patronage at regional level to certain castes and sustain political base, by capturing power. In this sequence, in the Andhra Pradesh region, upto bifurcation as Andhra Pradesh and Telangana in the year 2014, INC well co-opted Reddy community and sustained political power over the years).

On the other side of realising this much-coveted desire of capturing Chief Ministerial Position, Kapu community has failed to establish and be successful in the electoral democratic domain, unlike the Kamma’s under Telugu Desam Party (TDP). Though, Mr Chiranjeevi, one the most popular film actor in Tollywood, who belongs to this Kapu community, has attempted to ensure this desire gets fulfilled, by establishing Praja Rajyam Party (PRP) in 2008, has failed in reality. Kapu’s also sounded to have got well disappointed with the failure and susequent merger of PRP with the INC.

At present, to some extent, Kapu’s political trajectory is running under shadow shade, under the guise of another Tollywood actor Mr Pawan Kalyan, who established Jana Sena Party (JSP), in the year 2014. Mr Pawan Kalyan, as per many critics observations is playing a guised and shadow political game, by not formally establishing and playing politics under JSP. All this amounts to unprofessionalism in politics, so far.

Thus, all this indicates, that as of now, Kapu’s are failing to get realise their dual edged strategical aspirations. How long, this non-fulfilment may prolong, needs to be seen, by waiting and analysing the democratic political march. Or how this dual edged aspiration may also get modified or defeated also requires to be seen in the political discourse.