Hyderabad: The new-found love between the Congress and the Praja Rajyam Party on the eve of the by-elections in Kadapa and Pulivendula and their proposed honeymoon shortly is likely to end with a whimper in the wake of the resounding victory of YSR Congress in the poll battle.
The actor-turned politician Chiranjeevi, realizing waning film career, floated Praja Rajyam Party with an eye on the 2009 general elections by proclaiming that his outfit will be an alternative to the Congress and TDP in the State. Despite all the glitz and glamour with which his political party was launched and his proclamation to cleanse the public life from corrupt leaders, he could not make any headway.
The PRP, which contested 288 Assembly seats out of 294, managed to win only 18 seats and failed to win even a single Parliament seat. Mr Chiranjeevi himself lost in his hometown of Bhimavaram though he managed to win from Tirupati. The once mega hero, who had virtually become a zero leader, had been waiting for an opportune time to improve his political career.
The differences between Ms Sonia Gandhi and Mr Jagan Mohan Reddy, which cropped up after the sudden demise of late chief minister Y. S. Rajasekhara Reddy, seemed to have come as a blessing in disguise for Mr Chiranjeevi. When Jagan started attracting huge crowds during his Odarpu Yatras, and after he quit the Congress to launch his own party, the AICC leadership, in a desperate move, tried to elicit the support of the PRP in the event of any threat to the ruling Congress government.
When Ms Sonia Gandhi sent Defence Minister A. K. Antony as her emissary to Chiranjeevi with a package of political goodies, the PRP president immediately fell for the bait. Expecting ministerial berths to his party MLAs and also “lucrative post” for himself in the future, Mr Chiranjeevi decided to even merge his PRP with the Congress party.
The Congress High Command even tried to cash in on the cine glamour of the aging actor for campaigning not only in Kadapa and Pulivendula by-elections but also in the elections in the neighbouring Tamil Nadu and Kerala. The overzealous State Congress leaders even projected him as the future leader of the State. Even feelers were sent to him about the AICC leadership’s plans to offer him some important position in the organization.
Dreaming to become the future leader of the State, Mr Chiranjeevi campaigned in the by-elections in Kadapa in his inevitable filmi style challenging Jagan by twirling his moustache and thumping his thighs. He even joined the Congress leaders in unleashing a tirade against Jagan.
However, all these filmi antics did not go well with the electorate of Kadapa and instead it only helped to strengthen the sympathy and sentiments of the electorate for Jagan and his mother, who recorded a stunning and resounding victory in the by-elections.
As a matter of fact, the Congress High Command which gathered reports from Intelligence sources realized that the Chiranjeevi factor may not be of any great help to the ruling party in the State. The film actor’s failure to attract crowds during the campaigning was also brought to the notice of the Delhi by the party leaders who were not happy about the sudden overtures towards the film actor.
The record margins with which Jagan and his mother have romped home triumphantly have only become like the proverbial last straw on the camel’s back. In it is pertinent to note here that Chiranjeevi had even planned to disqualify the membership of some his MLAs who had aligned with Jagan. After the by-poll outcome, one wonders whether Chiranjeevi would be able to keep his flock together. (NSS)