From the past decade, politics in Karnataka has been dominated by three political parties, namely the Indian National Congress (INC), the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), and the Janata Dal (Secular) or JDS. However, people of Karnataka have kind of got disillusioned by all three parties. There is a strong feeling in the state that the two national parties, i.e. the Congress and the BJP have used Karnataka like an ATM card and drained all the resources out of it. The JDS isn’t a completely Karnataka centric party in the stricter sense since it has a negligible presence in North and Coastal parts of Karnataka. The people of Karnataka have wished for a truly Karnataka or Kannada centric party similar on the lines of the AIADMK and the Telugu Desam Party (TDP) of the neighbouring states of Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh respectively.
It appears that such a political party might have come into existence now. One of the most popular actors in Kannada cinema, “Superstar” or “Real star” Upendra has launched a new political party in the state. The new party’s name is Karnataka Prajnavantha Janata Party (KPJP) and it was finally launched on 31st October 2017, a day before the Kannada Rajyotsava or the Karnataka Rajyotsava day which is the date of formation for the state of Karnataka. Upendra had clearly announced the plans to enter politics and to set up a party a couple of months back, in August itself and it was finally made official a few days back on 31st October.
A lot of actors across India have entered into politics and Karnataka is no exception to this. Some like MG Ramachandra (MGR), Jayalalithaa, NT Rama Rao (NTR) have succeeded and some have failed after entering politics. What makes Upendra’s entry into politics interesting is that he has already proved that he is a creative genius as far as cinema is concerned. Known for a bit of off-track but highly innovative, intelligent, entertaining, and educative films, Upendra quickly became one of the most popular actor-directors in Kannada cinema.
Upendra’ creative genius is highly evident in his films like Upendra and Uppi 2 wherein he incorporated concepts from the highly complex Upanishads and Puranas and presented it to the general public in the form of an entertaining film. Long before Shankar made the blockbuster Robot starring Rajnikanth, Upendra had already made Hollywood which used the concept of humanoid or a human like robot. In the film Super, he used his imagination and presented it in a futuristic view wherein India is a superpower and Bengaluru is a highly advanced city.
There is absolutely no doubt that Upendra or Uppi as he is popularly known is a man of superlative creativity and that is evident with how he launched the party and planned his initial few steps in politics. Before launching his party, he stated that the intention behind him launching his party was that it was time for democracy or prajakiya and not for politics or rajakiya. He is aware about important issues that are plaguing Karnataka which the current polity has failed to address like the Kalasa-Banduri issue. After he announced his intention to enter politics in August, he didn’t immediately launch his party. He waited for two months to try to express some ideas that can be implemented to improve Karnataka.
Through short videos on YouTube as a part of nagna-sathya series, Upendra spoke about various ways on how to improve Karnataka. In one video, he spoke about the concept of a smart village and how software engineering can be used to build better villages. In another video, he spoke about solutions that can be implemented to improve the drainage system in Bengaluru and other cities of Karnataka. He first reached out to the masses and only then launched his party.
During the launch, Upendra again showed his innovative skills when he made the media sit on the dias and he along with his supporters sat in the audience. It was a reversal of roles and addressed the media as the chief guests of the event. He has also kept himself grounded and set realistic goals for himself and for the party in the 2018 assembly elections in Karnataka.
However, real is not reel and politics is a lot different from cinema. Upendra who was an ABVP leader during his college days has a formidable challenge ahead of him.
The three major political parties in Karnataka, the Congress, the BJP, and the JDS are well established players and have a very strong backing. It will be very difficult for any newcomer to take on the collective might of all these parties and only time will tell how far Upendra will be successful.
It is widely believed that about 30 years back, the legendary Shankar Nag who was one of the greatest visionaries in Indian cinema had undertaken trips to Malaysia and Singapore and studied the metro-rail systems over there. He had also obtained the blueprints and spoken about how this can be incorporated in Bengaluru. He had thought about the wind power and he was clearly ahead of his time and had discussed all this with the then Chief Minister of Karnataka, Ramakrishna Hegde and his successor SR Bommai. Unfortunately, Shankar’s untimely death in an accident meant that these plans never materialized.
Upendra is widely hailed as Shankar Nag’s successor due to his intellect and only time will tell if he will be able to make any significant improvement with KPJP and make a smooth transition from reel to real. Only time will tell if the KPJP is indeed the Karnataka centric regional party that the people of Karnataka have been eagerly waiting for.