The story goes that when Chiranjeevi met Dr Manmohan Singh to discuss the Polavaram project last year, the PM asked him for an autograph. It seems highly unlikely that Dr Singh would have ever seen any of Chiranjeevi’s 149 films, but having once signed when a Congressman asked him to, Chiranjeevi couldn’t resist an encore. So when Sonia Gandhi offered him the application form to join the Congress on Sunday, Chiranjeevi signed on the dotted line.
With that, Chiranjeevi announced Praja Rajyam’s sunset. For the actor-turned-politician, it will now be Congress Rajyam and the Tirupati MLA will have to share his devotion to Lord Venkateswara with the reigning deity of the Congress, whose sanctum sanctorum is 10, Janpath.
Chiranjeevi’s decision has not surprised many. Most saw it coming ever since the electorate of Andhra Pradesh didn’t give him a chance to play NTR Part 2. For a man used to being numero uno, his inability to replicate it in the real world was hard to digest. The temptation to don the greasepaint to do his 150th film was very strong. He even tried keeping his feet in two boats, saying “I will devote 20 days in a month to politics, 10 days to films” forgetting politics isn’t a 10 to 5 job. To be or not to be a full-time politician, was the question.
With the Praja Rajyam’s engine stopping at Gandhi Bhavan, the Congress gains immediately. It gets the numerical strength and courage to issue showcause notices to atleast a few of the MLAs who have been lending shoulder to Jagan and hope the rest will fall in line.
Also the party hopes the Kapu community vote, that would have otherwise gone to Jagan, will now be in the Congress kitty. Political analyst K Nageshwar points out that in coastal Andhra, the community vote is a deciding factor in many constituencies. Especially with no guarantee that Kiran Kumar Reddy will be able to ensure the Reddy community does not veer towards Jagan. So Chiru can be part of the effort to cultivate an alternate social electoral platform for the Congress.
But it won’t be that easy. When Chiranjeevi jumped into the cesspool of Indian politics, the Kapus looked to him as an alternative to the Congress and the TDP and voted for his party in 2009. His joining hands with the Congress could be seen as a betrayal of sorts.
What is in it for Chiranjeevi?
Not surprising considering Chiru is used to making a heroic impact within three hours. His filmy grooming does not let him have the patience to operate the nuts and bolts of a new political machine, that needs servicing and training all the time.
Chiranjeevi’s advantage is that he is entering the Congress when the party is weak. It is for him to convert this crisis into an opportunity. The Congress pond won’t be an easy water body to survive. But if Chiru can speak politics, breathe politics 24×7 instead of from `Action to Cut’, he stands a chance.
I do not think the Congress is thinking in terms of making Chiranjeevi the chief minister immediately. That’s not even part of this symbiotic deal. But if, he plays his cards well from here, he could be in the reckoning post 2013 or 2014. Like in his son Ram Charan’s superhit `Magadheera‘, Chiru’s political avatar has taken rebirth.
Veerappa Moily, with the body language of a matchmaker, announced Chiru is entering the Congress party’s joint family. And family politics, we all know, can test the smartest of newly-weds.