Kommineni Srinivasa Rao

There is one quality associated with Power Star and Jana Sena founder Pawan Kalyan's movies--an exceptionally high degree of self-respect. The characters donned by him mirror self-esteem and take pride in this attribute. In stark contrast, in the realm of politics, or in certain experiences he has gone through, it appears as if that is not quite the case.

One of the more interesting incidents Pawan Kalyan has been recounting in various places on his tour of Andhra Pradesh relates to the tonsuring of his head. Why he decided to bring it up now, nineteen years after it took place, is a mystery! He offered one explanation - even though he was humiliated by the Telugu Desam Party (TDP), he tried to justify his support to it. According to rumours doing the rounds, in 1998 TDP's prominent minister Paritala Ravi summoned Pawan Kalyan and got his head tonsured. Pawan himself rightly attributed these malicious stories to the Telugu Desam.
If the rumours emanated from TDP's office, the big question to be asked is--could
Chandrababu Naidu have been unaware of this slanderous campaign unleashed against Pawan Kalyan?

Pawan Kalyan now claims that the story about Paritala Ravi being responsible for the Power Star's tonsured head is not true. All these days there was a hush-hush campaign and whispers everywhere about Pawan Kalyan's shaved head. Now the entire episode is out in the open with the actor-politician himself talking about it.

While no one knows about the veracity of Pawan's version, his depiction of the incident has raised a number of questions in the minds of people. Everyone knows that the Power Star tends to act emotionally during his speeches. Therefore, it is all the more surprising how he let such a major allegation against him go unquestioned! Why did he not counter the propaganda against him? He need not have done so violently, but he could certainly have taken on those who let loose such slander against him with grace. Can he explain the silence on his part?

Paritala Ravi and Pawan Kalyan
Paritala Ravi and Pawan Kalyan

Why Pawan Kalyan felt intimidated by TDP leaders when his self-respect was smeared and his reputation besmirched, is a mystery he alone can unravel. If he could bring it up after all these years, one can well imagine to what extent the sense of humiliation raged in his heart. Had it not rankled still, Pawan Kalyan would not have thought it fit to bring it up now. Pawan Kalyan seems to have admitted that he had campaigned for the same Telugu Desam Party which had run a malicious campaign against him in the past. Interestingly, it is learnt that Chiranjeevi evinced interest in a plot next to Paritala Ravi's house. A very different version was put out by media groups which toe the TDP line, saying that there were security issues for Chiranjeevi. In the end, it emerged that something did transpire, though the exact incident remained shrouded in a haze of rumour and innuendo.

Pawan Kalyan also spoke about Vangaveeti Ranga in Vijayawada. He also warned that he would not remain silent if he were to be viewed as a Kapu. What about his silence on the killings of Ranga's opponents? BJP leaders allude to Pawan Kalyan hobnobbing with people of his caste. One cannot deny the fact that caste is an irrefutable reality of our society. It is true that people across the board, belonging to all castes and religions admire Pawan Kalyan as an actor, though the Kapu community goes the extra mile in laying "claim" to him. Their pride and self-respect are hurt if Pawan Kalyan is slighted. One cannot but think that by speaking the way he has, the actor-politician has upset them.

Harmony should prevail between castes - there can be no compromise on this, but does this mean that one should accept the dominance of another caste? This is a question worth asking. Is Pawan Kalyan not aware of the humiliation inflicted by the government on people belonging to the Kapu community when Mudragada Padmanbham spearheaded his agitation for reservations to Kapus? How is Pawan Kalyan's silence on Mudragada's ignominious house arrest, the torrent of abuse on the Kapu leader's family members to be interpreted?

In reality, this is not a problem confined to Kapus alone, but an issue concerning those who hold democratic values dear. Telugu Desam Party did not merely humiliate Kapus, but all those who have regard for democratic values. For Pawan Kalyan to miss the dimension of self-respect in this entire issue, is unfortunate. It is rather strange that Pawan Kalyan should ask in all innocence as to why Leader of Opposition in AP and YSRCP chief YS Jagan Mohan Reddy did not attend the assembly! Is he not aware of how Chandrababu Naidu lured and "bought" over twenty-two MLAs into his fold and made some of them ministers?

Is this not an issue relating to the self-respect of all Andhras? Will any self-respecting Andhraite accept such immoral defections? How are we to interpret Pawan Kalyan's silence on this issue? Pawan Kalyan's timing makes people suspect his political moves. He is delivering his dialogues at a time when AP Leader of the Opposition, YS Jagan Mohan Reddy's Praja Sankalpa Yatra is evoking tremendous response everywhere. Moreover, Pawan seems to support Chandrababu Naidu most of the time, occasionally appearing to criticize him. Other political parties are asking whether he is actually trying to divert people's attention and if he is in fact acting as a shield for Chandrababu. How can Pawan Kalyan defend the indefensible when it comes to Chandrababu on the note-for-vote case? His actions mask his motives though the actor-politician claims that he is not driven by any selfish ends. The biggest take-away for his fans, followers and admirers is the absence of self-respect in Pawan Kalyan's actions , which is a bit hard to digest. Let us hope that the Power Star in his off-screen life will also demonstrate the same measure of self-respect which he does on screen.