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Betrayal vs Trust: The stark contrast between the mega brothers Chiranjeevi and Pawan

Megastar Chiranjeevi's foray into politics was highly anticipated but ultimately fell short. Conversely, his younger brother, Pawan Kalyan, has enjoyed considerable political success. How did Pawan Kalyan succeed where Chiranjeevi did not?

Betrayal vs Trust: The stark contrast between the mega brothers Chiranjeevi and Pawan Kalyan gcw
First Published Jun 13, 2024, 1:25 PM IST

Written By - Venugopal Bollampalli/Editor Asianet News Telugu

From MGR to Vijay in Tamil Nadu and from NTR to Pawan Kalyan in Andhra Pradesh, the confluence of cinema and politics is a prominent phenomenon in Southern India. Film stars and writers who have illuminated the silver screen have also shone brightly in the political arena, with several ascending to the highest political offices in Telugu and Tamil states. When political voids emerge, film industry personalities often step in to fill them.

Tamil Nadu saw luminaries like MGR, Karunanidhi, and Jayalalithaa dominate politics and become chief ministers, whereas in the Telugu states, only NTR achieved comparable political eminence, despite attempts by other film personalities such as Krishna, Dasari, Krishnam Raju, Mohan Babu, Babu Mohan, and Murali Mohan.

Also Read | Jagan the Joker, Babu the Maker, Pawan the Kingmaker: The Political Realignment in Andhra Pradesh

Megastar Chiranjeevi's foray into politics was highly anticipated but ultimately fell short. Conversely, his younger brother, Pawan Kalyan, has enjoyed considerable political success. How did Pawan Kalyan succeed where Chiranjeevi did not?

Chiranjeevi: A Promising Start, But Missed Opportunities

Chiranjeevi's entry into politics was met with immense fanfare but ended prematurely. Within two to three years, he disbanded his party. Although he served as a central minister, he did not achieve the political success that his brother, Pawan Kalyan, now enjoys in Andhra Pradesh. Pawan Kalyan has not only made a significant impact in the state but has also risen to national prominence, forming a successful coalition in Andhra Pradesh and becoming a pivotal player in the government.

TDP chief N Chandrababu Naidu sworn in as Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh (WATCH)

The Rise and Fall of Praja Rajyam Party

During the era of political stalwarts like YS Rajasekhara Reddy, Chandrababu Naidu, and KCR, there was a strong desire for Chiranjeevi to enter politics and potentially become chief minister. After meticulous planning, he launched the Praja Rajyam Party in 2008 with great enthusiasm. Despite his immense popularity in films, the party won only 18 out of 294 seats in the combined Andhra Pradesh elections. The party's establishment just six months before the elections limited its success.

In 2009, the political landscape of combined Andhra Pradesh was dominated by strong parties like Congress under Rajasekhara Reddy, Chandrababu Naidu's TDP, and the Telangana movement party TRS. In this scenario, Chiranjeevi's party faced stiff competition and managed to secure only 18 seats, with one in Telangana and the remaining 17 in Andhra Pradesh. Chiranjeevi contested in two constituencies and won only in Tirupati, which was a significant blow to his aspirations.

The election results revealed that Chiranjeevi's popularity in films did not translate into political success. The quick establishment of the party and lack of grassroots presence were significant drawbacks. While he captivated audiences as a film star, he could not win their votes in politics.

Chandrababu Naidu tries touching PM Modi's feet after taking oath as AP CM, gets warm hug instead (WATCH)

A Boon for Rajasekhara Reddy

Interestingly, the establishment of Chiranjeevi's party indirectly benefited the then Chief Minister Rajasekhara Reddy. The competition, initially a direct contest between Congress and TDP, became a three-way race with Praja Rajyam Party's entry, splitting the anti-incumbency vote and aiding Rajasekhara Reddy in securing a second term. Had Praja Rajyam Party not been there, or if it had allied with TDP, the political landscape could have been different. Unlike his brother, Pawan Kalyan avoided this mistake by allying with TDP, preventing the split of the anti-incumbency vote, which was a key factor in his success.

Chiranjeevi's Sensitive Mindset

Following the 2009 elections, Chiranjeevi continued with his party for only two years before merging it with Congress, accepting a central ministerial position as an independent. As Tourism Minister, he served for two years before completely withdrawing from politics. Chiranjeevi's primary reason for merging his party with Congress was his inability to handle the rigors of direct politics.

He struggled to confront the ruling party, fight for public issues at the grassroots level, and handle criticism. His sensitive mindset was a significant drawback, leading to the merger and his retreat from active politics within five years. Despite founding a party and winning 18 seats in a short time, it was a significant failure given the initial hype.

Pawan Kalyan: A Strategic Approach

Learning from his brother's mistakes, Pawan Kalyan entered politics with a long-term vision. He focused on grassroots engagement rather than immediate power or financial gains, establishing the Jana Sena Party on March 14, 2014. Following the bifurcation of combined Andhra Pradesh into Telangana, Pawan did not contest the initial elections but supported the TDP-BJP alliance, which won in Andhra Pradesh.

Later, Pawan actively engaged in direct politics, severing ties with TDP and challenging the government. Balancing his film career with political activities, he dedicated time to understanding public issues and criticizing the government, preparing for protests. Despite initial skepticism about his political permanence and personal attacks, he persevered, vigorously challenging his opponents.

In the 2019 elections, Pawan contested independently with communist parties but won only one seat, facing a severe defeat. Nevertheless, he remained committed to long-term politics, building a grassroots cadre over the next five years. His consistent engagement with the public, addressing their issues and criticizing the government, gradually earned him their trust. Unlike Chiranjeevi, who quickly exited politics, Pawan displayed resilience, mastering political management, targeting communities, and attracting youth with powerful speeches. These efforts bore fruit in the 2024 elections, where Pawan emerged as a significant political force in Andhra Pradesh.

Strategic Alliances and Electoral Success

Realizing that contesting alone would split the anti-incumbency vote, Pawan strategically allied with TDP and BJP, effectively leading the coalition. He instilled confidence in his workers, remained active before the elections, and aggressively campaigned with powerful speeches that resonated with the youth, converting their enthusiasm into votes.

In Andhra Pradesh, significant anti-incumbency sentiment against the government arose due to issues such as unemployment, lack of state development and infrastructure, liquor and sand mafias, and changes in land rights laws. Additionally, the capital city issue became a major drawback for the ruling party. Pawan leveraged this anti-incumbency sentiment, forming a successful coalition that prevented vote splitting, significantly impacting YCP's votes.

The Jana Sena securing nearly ten percent of the votes, with half coming from YCP, demonstrated this shift. Pawan made history by winning all the seats he contested (21 Assembly, 2 MP), turning the state's political tide, becoming a kingmaker, and achieving more political and moral success than TDP, gaining national recognition.

Unlike his brother, who dissolved his party within a few years, Pawan Kalyan patiently waited a decade, enduring setbacks and criticism, becoming a seasoned politician, and achieving success. Chiranjeevi's sensitive nature led to his political downfall, while Pawan's daring and dynamic approach made him a political superstar. The support Pawan received from both Chandrababu Naidu and Prime Minister Modi indicates the trust he has garnered, with the BJP prioritizing him over Chandrababu in the state. If this trend continues, Pawan has significant chances of rising further in politics, potentially dominating in the next decade or two elections, challenging both YCP and TDP for power.

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