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What went wrong for Chiranjeevi?

May 17, 2009 19:17 IST
Megastar Chiranjeevi's fans had called him as the future Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh. Even the star had himself appeared hugely confident of making it big in his political debut in the state. "I am not seeking support from any political party, now I am offering support to them. I am confident that I would be able to get 160 assembly seats on my own. And my party will get enough number of seats for the Lok Sabha that it would be able to bargain the best for the state," he had told mediapersons.

Even the media had projected him to be the king maker or the king himself. Some sections of the media, who were critical of him, had even called him a spoiler. He was a spoiler in the sense that he had shared the anti-incumbency votes with the Telugu Desam Party.

TDP's dreams of coming to power on its own or with the help of other parties were quashed by the political designs of Chiranjeevi. Indeed, Chiru's new political thriller has bombed very badly in the electoral box-office.

And even the other political parties had over-estimated Chiranjeevi's strength. Though both Dr. YSR, the Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh and Chandrababu Naidu, leader of Telugu Desam, were publicly telling that Chiranjeevi's presence will have no effect on their respective parties, some how they feared that this charismatic actor may play the spoil-sport and may even win some seats in the bargain.

Secret parleys were held with Chiranjeevi and his trusted lieutenant Allu Aravind. Well known film producer Ashwini Dutt and film director Raghavendra Rao belonging to Telugu Desam had secret meetings with Chiranjeevi, just two days before the counting of votes had begun.

Apparently, they were pleading that Chiranjeevi should support the Telugu Desam in the case of a fractured mandate to the assembly.

Chiranjeevi was the real mega star of the Telugu film industry. One of the finest actors, he was able to play variety of characters mostly of which were strengthening his larger than life image on the screen.

His fans even thought that their favourite hero who had created waves on the silver screen would be able to repeat his magic on the political arena also, as he was doing many social programmes like opening Blood Banks, Eye Banks and was also involved in many developmental activities.

But his poor show in elections has shocked his fans. Neither Chiranjeevi's supposed charisma nor his social justice plank and 'change' slogan seems to have worked in the polls.

What went wrong for Chiranjeevi? Almost everything since he had launched his party in a mammooth function organised in Tirupathi. From then on Chiranjeevi tried to build up the party with the support of his fans who were ever ready to do something.

But banking on bad advise from many people, he preferred to give tickets to many rich and tainted people by taking money from them. There was a cash –for-the-seat scandal which rocked the party.

Rumours said that Chiranjeevi's party had taken Rs 3 crores for the assembly seat and Rs 5 crores for the Lok Sabha seat from the prospective candidates.

And there was lot of media coverage about the cash-for-seat scam of Praja Rajyam Party. This had really upset his fans who had hoped that their Mega Star would live up to his clean image evidenced in his films.

Chiranjeevi tried to pacify his fans who mounted many violent attacks on the party offices and new entrants who were dictating terms in the party. Many of the party offices in Kareem Nagar and Nizamabad districts were ransacked by fans.

Chiranjeevi convinced his fans that he had to give tickets to the rich and influential people only because of electoral compulsions. He also told them that the fans would be accommodated in the municipal and corporation elections.

Another important factor that went wrong for Praja Rajyam party was the lack of organisational set up at the grassroot level. The party offices which were frequented mostly by fans became dysfunctional after some time.

And Praja Rajyam , fielded weak and incapable persons against stalwarts of the Congress and the TDP. Chiranjeevi's over-confidence also had a negative effect on the party's chances.

Chiranjeevi himself admitted this. "Being a fledgling party we made some mistakes in the run-up to the polls," he said. "We failed to set up an organisational structure. Moreover, since we selected our candidates at nick of time, they too could not find time to campaign," he added.

Personally Chiranjeevi won the Tirupati assembly seat, but he could not score a victory from Palacole segment in his native West Godavari district.

His brother-in-law, Mr Allu Aravind, also received a drubbing at the Anakapally Lok Sabha seat.

Chiranjeevi had said that his Praja Rajyam would lead the Fourth Front at the Centre and play a key role in formation of Union government, failed to bag even one Lok Sabha seat.

The Praja Rajyam performed badly even in Godavari districts, the home turf of Chiranjeevi. In fact, in the entire north Andhra region, where Chiranjeevi was supposed to have clout, the party only succeeded in spoiling the chances of the ruling Congress instead of winning seats.

Besides Chiranjeevi, Praja Rajyam had a few other winners. But most of them had won their respective seats in the polls because of their personal influence among people in their constituencies. They were definitely not depending on Chiranjeevi's charisma.

Vijayasarathy Rajapur