Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Decline of Chiranjeevi: From mega star to a big zero in Andhra Pradesh

New Delhi: Just five years ago he was the undisputed mega star, the matinee idol and perhaps the most powerful person in Andhra Pradesh. People would throw rose petals at him while his speeches would make them go delirious. Everything seems to have changed for him in the past five years. The one time mega star of Telugu cinema, Chiranjeevi, has now become one of the most unpopular figures in the state. The same people are now throwing stones and rotten eggs at him. They even verbally abuse him. Chiranjeevi is facing the ire of the people in Seemandhra region. They feel that Union Tourism Minister Chiranjeevi is not doing anything to keep the state united. They openly attack him saying that the \'reel\' life hero is a big zero in \'real life\' politics. When he visited the Cyclone Phailin hit areas in Seemandhra, Chiranjeevi was booed by angry people. Some even pelted stones at him. There was no adulation and reverence. He was treated like any other politician who is unconcerned about the well being of the masses. The one time mega star of Telugu cinema, Chiranjeevi, has now become one of the most unpopular figures in the state. In the Telangana region, he is being seen as a pro-united Andhra politician and the people stopped \'worshipping\' him, long ago. His son Ram Charan Teja\'s films were also not allowed to be released in Telangana. Chiranjeevi\'s decline started with the humiliating debacle of his Praja Rajyam Party (PRP) in the 2009 Assembly and Lok Sabha polls. Chiranjeevi, who wanted to be the Chief Minister of AP failed to win even a single Lok Sabha seat and managed just 16 Assembly seats. In a TV interview, the most formidable AP Chief Minister the late Dr YS Rajashekhara Reddy had said, \"People come to see film stars. They don\'t vote for them. I don\'t consider Chiranjeevi a threat. He is not an NTR.\" The voters of Andhra Pradesh proved YSR right in the polls. According to the people close to him, Chiranjeevi was under the impression that he could repeat what the legendary film star NT Ramarao did in the early 1980s. His calculations went horribly wrong and he was finally forced to merge his party with the Congress in return for a Rajya Sabha seat for himself. This made him one of the several dozen leaders of the overcrowded Congress party. He managed to secure a berth for himself in the Union Cabinet in 2012. But his political ambitions ended his film career and mass appeal. He also lost the brand value. When he launched Praja Rajyam Party (PRP), there were allegations of sale of Lok Sabha and Assembly tickets for crores by his coterie. Chiranjeevi still denies those charges. But, only a few believe him. He is an unwanted man in Andhra Pradesh Congress. Some leaders joke that he is now a big zero both in politics and film. Even his hardcore fans are also disillusioned and most of his fan clubs have shut the doors long ago. A senior journalist in Hyderabad said, \"Earlier the people used to wait outside his house for a glimpse of Chiranjeevi for days. Now even if he walks on the roads, nobody looks at him.\" The YSR Congress Party led by Jaganmohan Reddy is decimating the Congress in Seemandhra. The Congress might win Telangana with the support of the Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS). Since, Chiranjeevi is from Seemandhra region, he will be seen as a non-entity in Telangana, even if his party rules the new state. Only three film stars made it big in Southern politics. MG Ramachandran or MGR in Tamil Nadu and NT Ramarao or NTR in Andhra Pradesh between 1970s - 1990s. The current Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu J Jayalalithaa has also made it big in politics by occupying the post of the Chief Minister thrice. Most others including Shivaji Ganeshan to Chiranjeevi have failed miserably.

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