And he did not disappoint. He got all his lines down pat and also did not forget to turn on the charm.
I for one am certainly looking forward to his party shaking up the established political duopoly in AP. He has the fan following across the state to make a serious bid for power and I do think he is right when he says that there is a political vacuum and therefore space for another political party. Chiranjeevi also has the credentials in that he has established a Blood Bank and has involved himself with other social service activities. Shows he has his heart in the right place.
Having said that, I have a few observations about Chiru’s new party.
For starters I am less than impressed by the fact that in some regions of Andhra Pradesh, particularly Rayalaseema, there have been quite a few defections from the Telugu Desam into the yet to be named party. The general feeling is that people from the Congress will begin to migrate to his party once the elections are announced. Congressmen who perceive a brighter chance of getting elected if they join him will definitely do so. Nothing wrong in people migrating to other parties, the best of politicians have done it: Chandrababu Naidu, V.P. Singh etc etc. Chiru himself defended it stoutly by saying that there was nothing wrong in having people who believe in him and his ideology join him. True. No doubt about that one. But still for a party that has come about because they believe that there is a political vacuum and that they should bring about change I think this is a bit strange.
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I mean what change are they going to bring about if all the key party functionaries are people who have been in politics for a long time? And especially those who have been part and parcel of the rough and tumble of factional politics in Rayalaseema.
The other issue is that Chiru kept talking about Youth. Looking at the kind of celebrations that accompanied the announcements and also the general attitude of the ‘youth’ I have a feeling that it is nothing more than just hero-worshipping youngsters who are taken in by his glamour.
A few months back there was the ugly incident where another Telugu film star Dr. Rajasekhar when asked if he would join Chiranjeevi’s party replied in the negative and also questioned Chiru’s political experience. This was enough to set off the Chiru fan association. They physically attacked Rajashekar and his family and it took the intervention of Chiranjeevi to cool tempers. This just goes to show the kind of people who are supporting him. All very well if he is trying to get together a bunch of storm troopers but since that does not seem to be his objective he very clearly needs to control these elements in his party. The question is, can he?
The other thing is that it is not very clear who he means by Youth. The unemployed youth? The rural youth? College going youth? I am slightly confused about it all.
While there is no doubt that he can mobilize the crowds the question is can he keep them with him for another year till the elections? These are people who are very clearly high on adrenalin. Just the right sort to generate enthusiasm when a party is being launched but are they the sort who will stay the course when it comes to organisation building? Building and sustaining an organisation is completely different from riding on the streets on bikes, waving flags and bursting crackers. But then maybe I am wrong, only time will tell.
The other thing that he very clearly needs to spell out is his views on Telangana. There already are people who are quitting the TRS to join Chiru’s new party. And they are of the view that Chiru will support the breaking away of the Telangana region from AP. If Chiru decides otherwise then there will be a lot of malcontents in his party. He hails from coastal Andhra and has a very strong following in the Rayalseema region. I am not too sure if supporting Telangana will go down well in those parts, esp. in coastal Andhra. Not a great situation either way. He avoided responding to any question regarding this issue but unlikely that he can duck this one for much longer. If he does not make his stance clear on the 26th then there is bound to be disappointment.
When NTR launched the Telugu Desam and was cris-crossing Andhra Pradesh on his Chaitanya Ratham in 1983/84, he called the Naxals Freedom Fighters when he crossed into Khammam district - then the hotbed of Naxal violence. Now this is not something Chiru can afford to say or do. How he deals with the Naxal issue is another thing that will be interesting to say the least.
I am also slightly uncomfortable about people who talk about Mother Teresa as their role model. I know I know. It is irrational, disrespectful and totally unfair but there it is. I guess everyone is allowed their idiosyncrasies and this is mine. I mean the moment anyone talks about Mother Teresa being their role model I am reminded of all the Beauty Queens who used to dutifully trot out her name during various pageants. But then let me give Chiru the benefit of doubt. Maybe he really is inspired by Mother Teresa! After all he has proved that with his various associations with Charitable organisations.
Anyway I am glad that Chiru has taken the first step. I now look forward to the 26th to see what he has to say in terms of the agenda for his party and what his plans for the future are. Until then I will keep my euphoria on hold.