In the theatre of the absurd that Andhra Pradesh now is, another actor has entered the muddled script to confound things. The true showman that he is, Pawan Kalyan announced his entry into politics on a Friday, at a ritzy convention centre attended by an ‘invitation only’ audience beamed live by satellite to screens round the state.
In a speech laced with ‘punch dialogues’, he metaphorically kicked the “villain” Congress, as a typical Telugu film hero might in the last reel. But other signals from his Friday First Show were a bit more ambiguous: He had words of praise for Telugu Desam Party chief Nara Chandrababu Naidu; did not speak either for or against Y S Jagan Mohan Reddy; was not clear about the agenda of his party, Jana Sena; did not specify if the party will contest the coming elections; and did not say if he would enter the fray himself. If kicking the Congress is his only agenda, he need not waste his energies: it is like flogging a dead horse.
Absurd pantomimes apart, Pawan Kalyan’s garbled arangetram illustrates the tragicomedy of the political scenario in Andhra Pradesh as the state lurches towards bifurcation.
A few days before Pawan’s show, we were witness to a joke cracked by our former chief minister, N Kiran Kumar Reddy. Holding up a small stone, said to be a piece from the erstwhile Berlin Wall, Kiran told us he and the few gentlemen in his company would ensure that the divided state is united again and, therefore, his “Samaikyaandhra” slogan is still relevant. Indeed, we would not have come to this pass if only leaders like Kiran Kumar Reddy behaved differently. I seriously believe that Madam Gandhi and KCR apart, the people of Telangana should give as much credit to Kiran for formation of the new state. But for his blatant anti-Telangana posture, the separate statehood sentiment would never have turned strong enough to compel Delhi into conceding it.
Does Kiran really provide an alternative to the people of Andhra Pradesh? If only he did not enter the electoral arena and instead tried to build a movement based on the people’s agenda, he could have set up a platform for people to exercise the “NOTA” option while casting their vote and thereby put some sort of moral pressure on whoever wins. But, going round with ticketless leaders discredited in their own constituencies or used to, till the other day, chant “Jai Jagan”, Kiran is surely not an alternative either to Chandrababu Naidu or Jagan Mohan Reddy.
Andhra Pradesh’s misery has been unending. Almost on a daily basis, Chandrababu Naidu preaches us value-based politics as he seeks to stop Jagan in his tracks. But what kind of value-based politics is he conveying when he garlands all and sundry, desperate to jump off the Titanic that the Congress is? As if not to displease those who cannot join the TDP for various reasons, he would advise them to go to the BJP with which he is expected to have a poll truck.
It is sad that a similar scenario is unfolding even in the new state that is coming into being, though the situation is not as bad as it is on the other side of the divide. Digvijaya Singh proclaims that if his party is losing leaders in Andhra, it is attracting them from other parties in Telangana. Is this business of party-hopping a virtue worthy of gloating? Even the TRS, which is keen to play a role in the reconstruction of Telangana, does not seem to be free from it, apparently because the party has not developed its own leadership across Telangana.
An Andhra intellectual mentioned the other day that the primary reason for the unfolding scenario in the residuary state is because for most leaders, business is primary and politics is just a tool to carry on with the business. Sadly, people have no place in this kind of business.
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