Is Megastar Chiranjeevi being roped into politics again by BJP? Will he be Rajya Sabha member from UP

Speculation is rife that the Bharatiya Janata Party is seriously contemplating roping in Megastar Chiranjeevi once again into politics

Chiranjeevis Shift in Approach Towards Remakes Evident Post-Bholaa Shankar

HYDERABAD: Speculation is rife that the Bharatiya Janata Party is seriously contemplating roping in Megastar Chiranjeevi once again into politics. In fact, popular Telugu news channel TV9 ran a speculative story suggesting that the BJP was very seriously nursing this idea.

The BJP, which is eying and capturing state after state to decimate the Congress on one hand and the regional parties on the other, indeed draws up a long plan to kill the two birds - the Congress and the strong regional parties - with a proverbial one stone in States which it targets.

Now which state is that? Pat comes the answer without any doubt that it is Andhra Pradesh.

Also Read: Megastar Chiranjeevi Awarded With 'Padma Vibhushan'

The BJP had polled a measly 0.96 percent of votes in the State in 2019 general elections as opposed to the NOTA that secured 1.5 percent votes.

Even the Congress ranked below the NOTA with a negligible 1.17 percent of votes in the State and was relegated to a non-entity.

The Congress, which was dead and gone and dumped in the dustbin in Andhra Pradesh, has suddenly found a ray of hope at least for a revival of political activity in the State by roping in the late Dr Y S Rajasekhara Reddy’s daughter Y S Sharmila and adorning her on the throne of AP Congress Committee as its president.

She surely is gaining currency with her personalised attacks on her sibling and Chief Minister Y S Jaganmohan Reddy.

All those who were denied tickets by the YSR Congress and the Telugu Desam Party have an immediate option to join the Sharmila bandwagon.

It’s these developments that triggered an alert and kindled a hope within the BJP.

The party that’s on a roll nationally is now trying to step into active politics in Andhra Pradesh by increasing its own vote bank. As it is, the Brahmins and Vysya community have been sailing with the BJP since 2014.

Also Read: After ANR, It is Megastar Chiranjeevi

But what the BJP needs is a critical mass. That comes in the form of the largest vote bank in the State which is the Kapu community.

With a view to capturing the Kapu vote bank, the BJP is said to be proposing to rope in Megastar Chiranjeevi into its fold.

Megastar’s family is deeply entrenched with at least four popular heroes in the Telugu film firmament.

The huge fan base of all the four actors, cutting across caste lines and political affiliations, can also be tackled and converted into favourable vote, if the Megastar becomes the front face.

It’s with this idea that the BJP is believed to be considering endowing Chiranjeevi with a Rajya Sabha seat from Uttar Pradesh replacing GVL Narasimha Rao who is nursing the Visakhapatnam Lok Sabha seat owing to the large presence of Brahmin vote in the city constituencies of the Assembly.

If the BJP offers the seat and convinces the Megastar to take the bait, that will be a point of deflection in Andhra Pradesh politics. The BJP, which is very pally with YS Jaganmohan Reddy in Andhra Pradesh for now, never had any political alliance with him.

However, it entered into electoral understanding as part of its National Democratic Alliance (NDA) with the Telugu Desam Party – not once, but thrice. The TDP under N T Rama Rao had aligned with the BJP in 1985 and the alliance broke after 1989 general elections. The TDP’s bonhomie with the BJP, however, did not reflect in the local body elections in 1986 and 1987. The BJP entered into a poll truck for 1999 Lok Sabha polls, though the TDP aligned with the BJP after 1998 Lok Sabha mid-term polls itself.

The two parties stayed in alliance even in 2004 general elections. But after the rout, TDP supremo N Chandrababu Naidu snapped connections with the BJP vowing that he would never join hands with the BJP in future and blamed it for its own (TDP) loss too, despite being the senior partner of the alliance in Andhra Pradesh.

Just on the eve of 2014 general elections, prime ministerial nominee Narendra Modi had offered an olive branch to the TDP and got Naidu back into the fold of the NDA. However, Naidu, after reaping the benefit of winning the polls, ditched the BJP and walked out of the alliance in 2018.

Ever since Jagan was elected to the top job in truncated Andhra Pradesh, he began maintaining a cordial relationship with the BJP even at the cost of being blamed for this kowtowing to the BJP out of sheer fear factor – that the Centre could invoke legal provisions to trouble Jagan in his ongoing cases in courts.

Naidu began showing signs of desperation to align with the BJP since last year and the series of incidents, including the latest visit to Ram Mandir inauguration in Ayodhya, make his intentions explicit. Naidu, who had taken the relations with the BJP to a precipice, had reversed his stand only to demonstrate that the breakup of the bond between the two parties did not reach a point of no return.

As it is, the BJP has one official ally as partner in NDA in Andhra Pradesh. That is Pawan Kalyan of the Jana Sena.

Naidu wanted to use Pawan Kalyan’s good offices with the BJP to get back into the NDA fold for the 2024 elections. However, Pawan Kalyan had demonstrated his aversion to sailing with the BJP and publicly announced his tie-up with the TDP. The two parties are for the record in a pact on the face of it, while Pawan Kalyan’s BJP alliance is still officially continuing.

Against this background, if the BJP really wants to strengthen its base in Andhra Pradesh, it would stay away from the TDP. In such an event, Pawan Kalyan would be told to stay in NDA ignoring the TDP. If the actor-turned-politician concedes this, the BJP-Jana Sena alliance would go to polls together.

If the BJP proposes to Chiranjeevi to get elected to the Rajya Sabha from UP, he could be used as the NDA trump card in Andhra Pradesh for 2024 elections. The BJP is eying the support of the Kapu community in large numbers with Chiraneevi and Pawan Kalyan being the two sides of the same coin.

This scenario may give rise to an entirely new political dijmesion with changes in chemistry among the parties. Chiranjeevi had floated a political party with the name Praja Rajyam and won 18 Assembly seats in undivided Andhra Pradesh in 2009 general elections, queering the pitch for the Congress and the Telugu Desam Party by denting the prospects of several hot favourites from both major contending parties.

After YS Jagan had walked out of the Congress and floated his own political party, Chiranjeevi solidly stood by the Congress and fortified it by merging Praja Rajyam into the Grand Old Party.

The Congress too rewarded him with a Rajya Sabha seat and made him a Minister of State with independent charge at the Centre in the Manmohan Singh Government.

After the bifurcation of Andhra Pradesh, the Congress was routed in the truncated Andhra Pradesh and Chiranjeevi called it a day from his political career.

Though he had announced numerous times that he had quit politics, they were not leaving him – a deeper remark that obliquely indicated that his bond with politics remained to continue.

This could be a ploy for him to get back to politics. If Chiranjeevi becomes the front face of the BJP and with Jana Sena being an alliance partner in the NDA, the new formation could be a gamechanger if not in 2024, at least by 2029 letting Pawan Kalyan to consolidate his position.

This would surely asphyxiate the TDP and give ample pinpricks to the YSR Congress too.

In the latest move by the Centre in attracting the megastar onto its side, the BJP Government conferred the second highest civilian award, Padma Vibhushan, on Chiranjeevi. The offer, if made, for his elevation to the Rajya Sabha bears fruit, the BJP can start nursing bigger ambitions in Andhra Pradesh.

Also, the asinine remarks of Pawan Kalyan could be checkmated, if Chiranjeevi moves in widdershins and finally lands up in the lap of the BJP.

For the BJP, this would be another valuable addition to the petals of the lotus which for now is seen wilted in Andhra Pradesh.

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