(Dr Pentapati Pullarao *)
Emperor Napoleon of France said it so accurately 200 years ago : “ Victory has many fathers. Defeat is an orphan “. The great Napoleon won and lost many wars and finally died as a prisoner on an island . But what he said 200 years ago applies perfectly to Shri Chiranjeevi and Praja Rajyam. Had Praja Rajyam done well in the 2009 elections, then everyone would have claimed a share of the victory. But since Praja Rajyam did not do as well as expected, the burden of defeat falls only on the shoulders of Chiranjeevi as ‘Defeat is an orphan”.
Winston Churchill famously said “Those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it. We have to understand our history in order to not repeat the mistakes of the past “
When you look back, Chiranjeevi actually achieved a lot in politics. Do you think Chandra Babu Naidu and KCR would have appointed 2 Deputy Chief Ministers of other castes if they forgot Praja Rajyam ?
It takes courage for a great actor to enter politics at the height of his career and put himself as a target before the most clever Telugu politicians ! But that is what Chiranjeevi did in 2008. Chiranjeevi faced the Telugu Desam of Chandra Babu Naidu, which enjoyed power for 16 years and was backed by the most influential castes . Similarly , Congress was led by a very big leader YSR Raja Sekhar Reddy .
As Arvind Kejriwal is a very good example on how to fight for political power against entrenched political parties, Chiranjeevi’s contributions have laid a foundation . The Peloponnesian wars took place between Athens and Sparta in Greece 2500 years ago. But even today , Generals study what happened there and draw lessons. Surely, we can examine what Chiranjeevi did just 10 years ago?
Looking back, we find that Chiranjeevi in entering politics itself brought change and has created fear in vested interests of Telugu States. Everyone wants a share in power and that power should not be monopolized .
Vested interests in Telugu states use the example of Praja Rajyam to illustrate wrong lessons. They say that even Chiranjeevi could not to defeat the upper castes and hence do not try. They say you must have media, thousands of crores , billionaire contractors. Vested interests want to demoralize you and discourage you by saying that the best solution is to adjust and get some posts.
Even the British used to belittle Mahatma Gandhi and joke how a half-naked fakir cannot break the British Empire. Younger Telugus should understand the positives of Praja Rajyam as it had nearly succeeded in a rebellion . The people did not fail Chrianjeevi as 32% of the votes in present day Andhra Pradesh is a record. Even Mayavathi, Mulayam Singh Yadav or DMK never got more than 25% of votes recently.
Positives of Chiranjeevi ‘s Praja Rajyam :
- When Chiranjeevi formed Praja Rajyam, it meant he was ready for defeat . In a war, when one side is ready for defeat, it has already won. In the recent Doklam issue in India-China tensions, both countries were struggling for a piece of land . China threatened India to vacate Doklam saying that India will be humiliated like in the 1962 War and it is better for India to withdraw peacefully. But to the eternal credit of Narendra Modi , though he ruined the Indian economy, he informed China that India will not withdraw and will fight . The minute Modi signaled China that India is ready for defeat, China came to its senses and settled the issue .
- Chiranjeevi showed that a new political party from weaker castes can be formed , though he did not have media, business and money backing him. Facing 2 mighty parties in Andhra Pradesh is no joke. Every step was sabotaged and terrible rumors were floated. In spite of that, Chiranjeevi finished the marathon race . To get nearly 20% of the votes in un-divided Andhra Pradesh is a miracle.
- Chiranjeevi risked his great film career and lost his film business. Just see how much calculation and caution Tamil actor Rajnikant is exercising before he enters politics . Rajinkant is still not sure whether he wants to risk his prestige. Chiranjeevi did a great service by showing Telugus that there are alternatives to vested interests .
- Praja Rajyam brought 5 lakh workers and local politicians at Panchayat level into election campaigns and they have become politically confident . People who could not find a place in Congress, Telugu Desam and established parties found a place in Praja Rajyam . Like Kejriwal’s party, many non-political people joined Praja Rajyam . There are lakhs of people ready to work for change
- Praja Rajyam secured about 20% votes across the State in 2009. In present Andhra Pradesh, the vote crossed 30%. This huge vote was secured without money, media, top castes and abuse , rumor-mongering and harassment .The new party nearly won and shocked everyone . Chiranjeevi got more votes than Mayavathi, Laloo Prasad, Nitish Kumar , Mulayam Singh Yadav , Shiv Sena, Deve Gowda, and the DMK . Chiranjeevi did not lose but did not win !
Jana Sena must appreciate the path shown by Praja Rajyam. Vested interests in Andhra try to paint Praja Rajyam as a big defeat and discourage people from throwing out corrupt interests . People are fed up with the old politics of money, vote-buying and caste domination . Strangely, in Andhra Pradesh except for D.Sanjivayya, who belonged to the Sch. Castes and was Chief Minister between 1960-63, no non-dominant caste has ever occupied power.
When a person is ready for a justful fight and defeat, he has already won and Chiranjeevi did just that . That is the debt which people of Telugu states owe Chiranjeevi and Praja Rajyam .
When Barack Obama became President of the USA in 2008, he said that he became President, as he stood on the shoulders of giants like Martin Luther King. Similarly, Jana Sena and the people who want change are standing on the shoulders of Chiranjeevi .
Pawan Kalyan must have considered the experience of Chiranjeevi and the difficulties and defeat. But War colleges all over the world teach lessons from defeat . When you are ready to lose prestige and fight, you have already won and Jana Sena should remember that Chiranjeevi contributed enormous positives.
What War colleges across the world cannot teach is how to face the un-expected and un-tiring rebel! Be an eternal rebel and you will win.
(*Dr Pullarao is a New Delhi based political commentator. twitter @PentapatiPullar )