Opinion: BJP’s politics a “lose-lose” deal for Pawan Kalyan and its allies

Palwai Raghavendra Reddy.

Hyderabad: Political temperature has risen in the state since elections to the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC) were announced, and opposition parties were scrambling to find a wining formula to take on the ruling Telangana Rashtra Samithi. 

Many overt and covert deals had taken place since the announcement, which surely was sudden one for opposition parties which did not expect chief minister K. Chandrashekar Rao to go in so early; especially after the recent debacle in the Dubbaka by-polls, which the pink party lost by a slender margin of less than 1,500 votes, to the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

While the Congress parties continues to be in a disarray, the Bharatiya Janata Party is displaying a mocked-up strength and has undertaken a brazen and aggressive Hindutva campaign. Leaders of the saffron brigade unfortunately are resorting to making baseless and sacrilegious statements against the ruling party and the chief minister to polarize voters on religious grounds  for political mileage.

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BJP’s state-unit chief Bandi Sanjay Kumar, who has a past record to making inflammatory comments, is resorting to similar tactics in the run-up to the GHMC polls, scheduled to take place on December 1. The results of which will be declared on December 4.

Alliances & Affiliations

Political alliances and affiliations are a common phenomenon during every election, small or big; and this GHMC election is no different. TRS working president and state IT minister K. T. Rama Rao claimed there would be no alliance with any political party, and his party would win 10 seats even in the old city areas of Hyderabad, which is dominated by the All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM).

He further added that the TRS and MIM are not friends. However, the latter in the past extended support to the party in power, as a respect to the “good” work done by KCR. The AIMIM, led by Hyderabad Lok Sabha member of Parliament, has also not spoken about any alliance with the TRS (while one of its MLAs even went as far to say that they can make any party fall if they want).

With many senior leaders and past corporators, including former GHMC mayor Banda Karthika Reddy and former Serilingampally MLA Bikshapathi Yadav, joining the BJP, the Congress has struggled to field its best candidates across all segments. On the other hand, the BJP, which claims to be the main opposition force in Telangana, also struggled to find candidates who could win votes. 

Across numerous segments, BJP gave Party tickets to candidates who were imported from Congress or other political parties. All it has this time, is its major Hindutva and polarising campaign.

The Pawan Kalyan factor

From the time GHMC polls were announced, Pawan Kalyan’s Jana Sena Party (JSP) showed great interest to field its own candidates. It wanted to do that in alliance with the BJP, expecting the latter would allocate some seats for its alliance partner (both are in an official alliance in Andhra Pradesh). 

But the BJP, which is seeking Pawan Kalyan’s support in Andhra Pradesh, is unwilling to let go of even a single seat in favor of the popular actor’s party. Ironically, the saffron party wanted Pawan Kalyan to campaign for them in the GHMC polls, which the latter apparently accepted to do. However, the BJP was unwilling to make some concession for its alliance partner!

BJP ‘brand of politics’

While past leaders of the Bharatiya Janata Party cultivated ‘coalition politics’ in India, the new-age leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and union home Minister Amit Shah wants the party to grow at the expense of not just opposition forces, but also their alliance partners where possible. 

BJP’s brand of politics across states like Maharashtra, Punjab, Assam, and most recently in Bihar, are classic examples to indicate that the saffron party believes in self-gain and does not care for partners, using whom it emerged as a force in the first place.

Pawan Kalyan, who will consolidate ‘Kapu’ community votes in Andhra Pradesh, a necessity for BJP, is a prominent factor among the youth of Hyderabad. Pawan Kalyan can also attract votes of native Andhrites, who have settled in Hyderabad for various occupational reasons. It would have helped the BJP a great deal in the GHMC polls.

It is this popularity and political possibility which would have prompted Pawan Kalyan’s Jana Sena to seek few seats to contest, but it was turned down instantaneously.

A lose-lose model

BJP intends to grow greatly in South Indian states before the 2024 general elections and Andhra Pradesh, where it received just 1% votes last year (in the Lok Sabha and state polls). AP is among the primary targets for the Modi-Shah duo. 

While the Kamma community (which is manly from the coastal Andhra region, and to which TDP supremo Chandrababu Naidu belongs to) is with the Telugu Desam Party, and Reddys will go with the YSR Congress Party (YSRCP, led by AP chief minister Y. S. Jagan Mohan Reddy), the BJP is banking on consolidating the large Kapu ‘vote bank’ to win seats in the next election in AP.

Pawan Kalyan, who aligned with left parties in the previous state and Lok Sabha elections, failed miserably in 2019 and turned ‘right’ to align with the BJP now. He has assured unconditional support and unassuming love for Prime Minister Modi. And on the other hand, BJP, which seeks Pawan Kalyan’s support, does not want to share seats with him in the GHMC polls!

Federalism is not just an instrument of power sharing, but is also a symbol of coordination, cooperation, and appreciation between parties; and coalition politics too symbolizes the same. But, with the emergence of Modi-Shah, this cooperative model of politics has taken a backstage! 

Coalition of parties promotes democracy in its true sense and brings out the best of representative politics. Now in the case of Jana Sena and the Bharatiya Janata Party, it would be interesting to see if the sense of representative politics will survive; and if not, the arrangement between Pawan Kalyan and the saffron brigade is surely a ‘lose-lose’ proposition for the matinee idol, who assumes to emerge as the most popular figure in Andhra Pradesh politics in the next elections.

(The author is a political communications specialist; and has worked in states like Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Odisha, Chhattisgarh and others.)

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