To Janasena, With Hope

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When I look back and think of the defining moments of political interest in my life, I can think of two such moments. The first was sometime in 2008 when the popular Telugu movie actor Mr. Chiranjeevi announced his own political party Praja Rajyam Party(PRP). I was in school back then and he was my favorite actor. Though I didn’t follow the politics much, I did want him to win. I do remember sitting with my father and few of his friends as the counting updates were rolled on TV, post 2009 elections. Though it was disappointing to see him lose and what followed next, it didn’t really make me think much about it. Maybe because I was too young.

The second political moment of interest came almost after 4 years, when Mr. Pavan Kalyan announced his party — Jana Sena Party(JSP). Pavan Kalyan is Chiranjeevi’s brother and also a very popular Telugu movie actor. But it’s for reasons beyond films which get him a lot of followers. After he announced his party just few months before the 2014 elections, he also announced that he wouldn’t be contesting in the upcoming elections. This decision went under a lot of criticism but to take a new political party from its announcement stage to election participation is a time taking process. It’s by following his political journey since then that I got a bit involved in what’s happening in the state politics.I still don’t think I know/understand all about it, but I don’t want to be diplomatic and say that I don’t know anything about politics just to stay on the safer side.

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I am one of those people, one of those thousands of his fans and followers who feels and believes that he truly cares for the society around him. I neither know him in person nor through any mutual acquaintance. All I know of him is through his films, interviews(which he wasn’t doing much until he came into politics) and what I hear people talk about him from their direct experiences. But that’s how things work, don’t they? You don’t have to know someone in person to form an impression. When he joined the alliance with BJP and TDP, I rooted for it too. The reasons were not just that he was part of the alliance. There is a difference between choosing the one you want to be your leader and choosing the one among those who are contesting. During elections, you get to vote the candidate you feel is better than the others or sometimes the best(and yea we also have NOTA now). In 2014 it was Mr. N. Chandrababu Naidu and Mr. YS. Jaganmohan Reddy who contested from their respective parties TDP and YSRCP. For some reasons, I was more inclined towards Mr. Naidu, with the BJP alliance also being a factor. Why not Mr. Jagan? As stated above, you pick who you feel is better than the rest.

Many people were of the opinion that after Andhra-Telangana state division, Andhra Pradesh needed the experience of Mr.Naidu. It wouldn’t have been easy for any party that formed the government to handle both the needs of the state and fulfill the electoral promises after the state separation. Not surprisingly, Mr. Naidu has failed in meeting the peoples expectations. Meanwhile, Mr.Kalyan had to face the opposition party’s wrath for taking sides with TDP. Couple of years after the elections, Kalyan took the stage to openly go against BJP for not keeping the promise of Special Category Status for Andhra Pradesh. He was in fact the first to do this, while Mr.Naidu on the other hand insisted that the alternate Special Package provided by BJP after several protests is the same and a better option. If that’s really true, why would Mr. Naidu take a U-turn to criticize BJP for the same package which their government accepted and then later on break their alliance altogether with BJP? By then, Mr.Kalyan had let the chips fall and went right against both TDP and BJP.

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While until then the opposition called him a puppet in the hands of Mr. Naidu, it was time for TDP to take a similar dig against Kalyan who said he was playing in the direction of BJP. There was a time when Mr.Kalyan was the target when it came to taking criticism from both the other parties. The media which gave him some coverage until then stopped doing it. In addition, there were a lot of telecasts which the media called debates, that were centered on or connected to his personal life. And he’s probably one of those very few people who dared to go against the established media by calling to boycott some of the news media channels.

The 5 years from 2014 and till the day the 2019 election results were announced(which is today), the journey had a lot of happenings both for him and his party. After the movie Agnyaathavaasi, he stopped making movies and started being active in politics and interacting with the people. While he initially showed not much interest in calling himself a CM candidate, his speeches transitioned into projecting himself as the potential leader whose party has it all to form the government. While the opposition and haters(who are many in number) started pointing it out as his true color and revelation of Mr.Kalyan’s desire for power, one can only feel for such ignorant remarks. As the founder of JSP and perhaps the only candidate who his followers would accept for the Chief position, it is necessary for him to project himself as the future leader of the state which otherwise would instill doubts and lack of confidence both in the party cadre and general supporters. Many people didn’t seem to like the fact that he uses written papers for his speeches and made fun of it. While it’s both acceptable and necessary to criticize or be scpetical of someone’s political views and opinions, it is silly to pick on things like these. I mean, many political speeches are simply read out from teleprompters!

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I am writing this blog after Janasena Party won a single Assembly seat out of 175 in 2019 elections. Mr. Pavan Kalyan, the founder of JSP failed to win both the constituencies he contested from. Some say it’s all over both for him and his party. Some are taking pride in their correct predictions. Some fans are so hurt that they want him to leave politics and go back to movies. We live in a society where a school going kid is questioned(if not beaten) for scoring low marks in a mid term examination and is often forced to work harder and do better. The student is monitored and is expected to deliver the results. We don’t expect a fraction of it from the leaders we elect and the leaders who serve(if that’s really the word!) us. Political Accountability! We have one leader who says his party’s ideology is to make politicians accountable, a word which no other politician speaks of. But what if Mr.Kalyan is using it for simple propaganda and to win votes? If that’s the case, then all his supporters including me are making fools of ourselves. But you can’t expect guarantees with bets and beliefs. You go with your guts!

People who feel its all over for Kalyan or that his party had no impact are not looking at things the way they are. Those who are not the supporters of JSP should not ignore the fact that YSRCP could have formed their government as the ruling party in 2014 itself if not for TDP’s alliance with JSP and BJP. And in this year’s election, TDP would have done much better if Janasena didn’t contest. How can one say JSP had no impact whatsoever just because it managed to win only 1 seat? To the supporters of Mr.Kalyan and Janasena, if you truly believe in the ideology of his party, you should treat elections as just a formal political procedure. Yes the results are going to make a lot of impact but as a party thriving to bring a social change and rooting for political reforms, elections and its results should only mean one thing — assess the peoples response and reach out to them in better ways.

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It’s also sad to see some people taking their anger on the voters. Janasena comes with a very different ideology, one which is not only different from other parties but also different from most peoples beliefs too. A vote made in caste favoritism will in turn lead to a society led and driven by caste but not credibility. Though its sad, one must accept that in many areas, people still cast their vote for money and in support of their own caste. And Janasena going by its principles to not do money politics(some people say it did but Janasena is as close you can get to Zero Budget Politics) by distributing money, had to face the consequence. No matter what Janasena managed to do(Uddanam to name one), many voters still fall for the election day money or for caste favoritism. To emerge as a strong political party without losing its political ideals, Janasena should strive to reach out to people and educate them on their policies and why its important for them to vote for their party even when they dont distribute money or any election time gifts. Some of the people I talk to about Janasena keep asking me why I support the party and its leader while there are rumors that he sold himself for TDP. Isn’t it easy for all of us if anyone shows some concrete proof on this claim?

Kalyan has been the face and voice of Janasena for most part of the past 5 years. It’s time for the other party members to chip in and take it forward along with its founder. Though there is no doubt that he has an immense following, the party future depends on the collective efforts and it sure needs more party members to take up the challenges. While the other parties had promotions with rich cinematic values of direction, music and screenplay, Janasena didn’t invest much on party promotions during its election campaign period. They sure don’t have the financial resources as the other parties and Mr.Kalyan believes there is no need to lavishly spend money on ads if you have other channels of reaching out to people. While it’s evident he is taking an unorthodox path in his political journey, Janasena should have done better in taking their party and its principles to all sections of the people and in all regions through other possible channels.

He is one of those few leaders with an ardent fan following who stand by him and support him no matter what the opposition parties claim or criticize. While these followers are with Janasena, the portion of the public who are politically neutral will be the key in the future. Mr. Kalyan should also make sure that his speeches are not misinterpreted. In one of his interviews he clearly speaks out that TDP is no longer the election favorite and YSRCP is the party to beat. Yet, his speeches towards the end of the campaign were talked about as targeting only YSRCP in an attempt to protect TDP. His thoughtful vision behind choosing young leaders was portrayed as selecting soft candidates,a move to make it easy for TDP to win. In spite of his repeated statements that he doesn’t want anyone to vote for Janasena based on caste, his party was given the title of belonging to one particular caste. The cooked up stories, the intentional and targeted debates, the telecasts that were made without ever speaking of any sources for the news — the media played such a big role in influencing Janasena’s election outcome.

What was striking to me the most was the state of news media. Media should be the enablers for the common people to see the real side of things. When the same media with such a huge responsibility starts acting biased,that can lead to people being easily influenced in favor of some particular political party. To make it more complicated, what we have is not even a biased media. It’s much worse. There are news channels which only air news in favor of party of their interest and promote political propaganda. This argument got nothing to do with Janasena. There is a need for a responsible journalism.

Whether you are a supporter of Mr. Pavan Kalyan or not, we should realize that politics is a more responsible and time taking process than movies. For Kalyan’s fans and followers, he is an honest person and a real leader who you don’t often get to have. There’s is a wild frenzy in the way fans respond to anything related to him — which sometimes gets as close to madness and an obsession. While it was fine until he was in movies, the same behavior from fans and supporters can cause him trouble than anything. To those who didn’t like him as an actor or don’t agree with his party’s views, you bring in a different perspective to what he and his party does. No matter what political party you support, a ruling party is sometimes as good as the strength of its opposition.

Irrespective of results, Janasena has managed to stick to its ideals which not many parties of current times can dare try. I hope Janasena emerges as a strong opposition party in the years to come. With experienced people like Nadendla Manohar, VV Lakshmi Narayana along with many women and young leaders, Janasena can only get stronger from here.What if Janasena fails? For that you should first define failure. The number of seats won, the percentage of vote share should not be the metrics for longevity/success of the party or your support to it. And as I said, you can’t expect guarantees with beliefs. You go with your guts!

My support for Mr. Pavan Kalyan and Janasena doesnt make me hate any other political party or leader. Many congratulations to Mr. YS Jaganmohan Reddy on his huge victory and hope he takes forward the legacy of his Father, the late Mr. YS Rajasekhar Reddy. Only few governments really manage to touch the lives of most sections of the society through their policies and schemes. The last time that happened was during Mr. YS Rajasekhar Reddy’s reign, specially the education and health policies that benefited countless number of people . I wish Mr.Jagan keeps his words and promises.

If you read this far, then thanks for your time.Hoping for a better, accountable and responsible political future!

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