Like any good politician, Chiranjeevi has decided that offense is the best form of defense. So at a press conference on Thursday morning, the actor-turned-politician quit the Andhra Assembly, accepting "moral responsibility" for his flip-flop on Telangana.
At a press conference, he explained why he has swung from supporting a new Telangana state, to firmly opposing a bifurcation of Andhra Pradesh. "I am bowing to the wish of the people," he declared. "The onus is on the Congress to explain the unilateral action taken.. Andhra has never seen a crisis like this." Chiranjeevi also pointed out that he's not the only one who's changed his mind about Telangana. "Not just us, Telugu Desam, Congress and even Communist parties are having to change stances according to people's wishes."
Chiranjeevi's Praja Rajyam Party (PRP) promised to fight for a separate state of Telangana during the Lok Sabha elections earlier this year. And then at an all-party meeting called in Andhra a few days ago, he told the Chief Minister that the PRP supports a new state. However, when the central government sanctioned the Telangana state last week, Andhra's political parties were whiplashed. 145 MLAs have resigned from different parties, including the ruling Congress. The MLAs who've quit come from the non-Telangana regions of Coastal Andhra and Rayalaseema. For Chiranjeevi, who to side with is obvious: he has two MLAs from the Telangana region, 16 from the two other regions of Andhra.
And suddenly, parties changed their stand overnight. Like Chiranjeevi, Chandrababu Naidu has blamed his U-turn on the fact that the Centre didn't consult other parties before announcing its ok for a new state. In fact, even Andhra Chief Minister K Rosaiah has said the Congress' central party leaders did not share their decision with him before Home Minister P Chidambaram had a surprise midnight press conference last Wednesday, greenlighting a Telangana state.
For Chiranjeevi, good politics means bad economics. Pro-Telangana supporters have warned that they will boycott any film starring him or made by his family's production company. That threat prompted the actor to call off a hunger strike he had planned to launch in Tirupati. He later said, ""I will support the Samaikya Andhra agitation in spite of threats to the film career of my son and other family members. If they want to attack me for being an artiste and a politician, so be it."
Attempting to pacify voters in Telangana, Chiranjeevi said, " Telangana people gave me a place in their hearts for so many years... they are still backward, but becoming a smaller state, finances will go down, it won't help real progress... social justice can't happen in separate Telangana... experts' opinion supports this."