23 October 2022

Elections are an expensive business. This is no great secret and those involved in it, especially those having fought poll wars in the past, are only too well aware of what it costs. But when the realisation dawns that the money they are spending is not for their own benefit but for someone else, it begins pinching. The same appears to be the case with several TRS leaders who were told to camp in Munugode to ensure party candidate Kusukuntla Prabhakar Reddy’s victory in the bypoll. “Feels like we are fighting sarpanch elections,” is the refrain one hears from among the 14 ministers and 86 TRS MLAs, each appointed to oversee two to three villages in the constituency. “We’ve been meeting the same 2,000-3,000 people every day since Dasara,” they now say, questioning why they have been reduced to ‘sarpanch level’ campaigns. Some MLAs are also complaining about the massive expenses they are incurring to lure voters by arranging liquor, lunch and dinner parties. Sadly for them, these whispers of discontent have reached the ears of TRS president and Chief Minister K. Chandrashekar Rao. What followed was a stern warning from the Chief Minister  who questioned the politicos and their discontentment about spending after having been given the opportunity to be MLAs and ministers.


It isn’t easy being a bureaucrat — especially if the official has made frenemies among politicians in the ruling party or fellow bureaucrats. This appears to be the case with 1994 batch IAS officer Praveen Prakash in Andhra Pradesh. Once the blue-eyed boy of Chief Minister Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy, with a spot in the CM’s office, Prakash has seen his share of ups and downs, his share of controversies, that saw him ending up as resident commissioner at AP Bhavan in New Delhi. Having been in the CMO, Prakash apparently managed to prevail upon Jagan during his recent visit to Delhi to allow him to get back to the state. He has been posted as principal secretary of the roads and buildings department. News of his return first sent jitters through the state bureaucracy and YSRC leaders, but it subsided after officials learnt that Prakash’s efforts to return to the CMO hadn’t materialised. Some YSRC leaders fear that if Prakash returns to the CMO, then the bureaucracy would “feel” his presence as it did in the past, something which they say will not bode well either for the Chief Minister or for the party.


The agony of being told off is never something one looks forward to. Heaping abuse on the leaders of Opposition parties is not a one-way street as retribution can be swift, a lesson YSRC leaders in Andhra Pradesh are quickly learning. Or may be their choice of target was someone they were unprepared for. Whatever the case, when movie star and Jana Sena chief K. Pawan Kalyan took one of his chappals and waved it in the air saying YSRC leaders calling him names should know what awaits them — a string of slaps with his chappal — those who kickstarted the row couldn’t take it. First they raked up his personal life, referring to his three marriages. When Pawan Kalyan used some of the now-famous lines from his hit film Bhimla Naik, announcing “Kodakallara (you fellows)... chavatallara (useless fellows), daddammallara (idiots), gonthu pisikestha (I’ll throttle your necks)” and “Cheppu teeskoni kodatha (and beat you with chappals),” they could not ingest the disrespect. The row even saw Chief Minister Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy, saying, “What would happen to the self-respect of our women if these leaders are to be followed? Such leaders, who have nothing great to claim about themselves cannot guide people and society.” The outcome of the brouhaha? We now know that the chappal Pawan waved cost him $65 (quite an unforgivable price especially when talking to the common public) for the pair thanks to the diligent digging by YSCR online sleuths.


Telugu Desam president N. Chandrababu Naidu is not known as a shrewd and astute politician for nothing. Of course, every politician is also an opportunist but to dwell on this aspect alone would be nothing more than berating an already well-established political fact. Talk of Naidu’s political acumen is back in fashion after he began showing solidarity with Jana Sena chief K. Pawan Kalyan. Following Kalyan’s open-top car rally and his attack on YSRC ministers at the Visakha Garjana, Pawan received some much-needed political mileage among the masses. Then followed his angry speech at the Jana Sena meeting at Mangalagiri where he pitched himself as the prime opponent of the YSRC. But then Naidu, with some 40 years under his political belt, entered the fray and met Kalyan at a hotel at Vijayawada ostensibly to console him over the YSRC’s attacks. Then came the kicker, Naidu tactfully changed the meeting into a joint press meet, condemning police action against Kalyan and gave a call for opposition unity and the fight to save democracy. It ended up seeming as if the Jana Sena and the TD were moving closer to each other, leaving Kalyan’s fans wondering what was up again.


No matter how much an official tries to erase the past, an image once built is hard to shed — as TSRTC MD and former Cyberabad police commissioner V.C. Sajjanar is learning. Sajjanar who was pulled by the Supreme Court-appointed commission to probe the alleged encounter killing of the four accused in the rape-and-murder of a veterinarian at Shadnagar in 2019, was back in the news the other day following the case of rape of a four-and-half-year old girl in a private school in Banjara Hills by the school principal’s driver. Protests outside Banjara Hills police station resonated with “Bring Back Sajjanar! We want Sajjanar justice,” slogans. Even the girl’s parents raised the demand that only “Sajjanar sir” can bring justice to their children. “Hand over the accused to us or bring back Sajjanar to handle this case,” was the sole demand from the girl’s parents, and several others who stood in solidarity with them. The controversial police officer may have hoped that a posting in the transport sector would keep him away from the limelight, but then, the echoes of a past gunslinging life, so to speak, are apparently not easy too silence.

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