Will Pawan Kalyan succeed in forging grand anti-YSRCP alliance?

Amaravati: Political parties in Andhra Pradesh are abuzz with the talk of realignment ever since actor-politician Pawan Kalyan asserted at his Jana Senas formation day celebrations that he will not allow a split in anti-YSRCP votes in the next elections.

Political pundits are debating if Pawan Kalyan’s efforts to forge a grand alliance against the Jagan Mohan Reddy-led government will yield results.

Analysts say the actor faces an uphill task in bringing the Telugu Desam Party (TDP) and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) again on a common platform and even if he succeeds the Left parties, his electoral allies in the 2019 elections, will not be ready to join hands with a formation that includes the saffron party.

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The BJP appears to have reservations in aligning with the TDP and is planning big for the state by projecting Pawan Kalyan as the chief ministerial candidate. However, the fact that the TDP remains the most formidable political force and an alliance without the Chandrababu Naidu-led party may not be able to challenge the YSR Congress Party (YSRCP) may force Pawan Kalyan to agree to a bigger role for the TDP.

Addressing a public meeting to mark the Jana Sena Party’s ninth formation day, Pawan Kalyan had also said that he was waiting for a road map from his ally BJP to dethrone the YSRCP. This is being interpreted differently in political circles.

Some say Pawan may be preparing the ground to distance himself from the BJP as a section of leaders seem comfortable with the YSRCP as it is giving them the required support in the Rajya Sabha on key issues while others feel it is a strategic blunder by Pawan Kalyan.

“Pawan Kalyan has once again demonstrated his immaturity. He is a prominent personality with a huge fan base across the state, and beyond. If the right candidates are put into an electoral contest, the Jana Sena can give the more established TDP and the YSRCP a run for their money and on all parameters his party can attract more votes than the BJP,” said political analyst Palwai Raghaendra Reddy.

He believes that by making this statement the actor has undermined himself and his party. “With that one statement he positioned himself as a junior partner in a possible political coalition in Andhra Pradesh before the 2024 elections. His comments will surely not enthuse his fan base or voters in any way,” the analyst added.

He pointed out that the TDP is striving hard with its attempts to take the fight against Jagan Mohan Reddy to the public. “On the other hand, the BJP with the least stakes in Andhra Pradesh will continue to play its own wait and watch game, before it decides on fighting alone or to align with a side. I do not think the BJP or the TDP will bank on Pawan Kalyan for a political alignment, but it could be the other way,” said Raghavendra Reddy.

Telakapalli Ravi, however, differs. According to him, it’s an anticlimax for what he called a ‘PK political film’ to wait for a roadmap from the BJP after declaring that the Jana Sena will form the next government. “It is obvious that he is bound by the BJP ultimately,” he said.

He believes that Pawan Kalyan and the BJP are not prepared to give a new lease of life to a much shattered TDP which is still a significant political force. “If Pawan goes alone with the TDP, it’s nothing but Chandrababu Naidu’s rule. That he is not for severing relations with the BJP is clear. That way he got his own roadmap. Giving positive signs to the TDP is purely tactical,” said the senior analyst.

The TDP, which is leading the fight against the YSRCP on the ground, was upbeat after Pawan’s call to avoid a split in anti-YSRCP votes. Its leaders say that Pawan through his speech has responded to the statement by TDP chief Chandrababu Naidu that his party is not averse to an alliance with the Jana Sena.

TDP leader and former minister Chinna Rajappa welcomed Pawan Kalyan’s call to ensure that anti-incumbency votes are not divided.

The BJP, on the other hand, was guarded in its reaction. It seems the saffron party leaders are not ready to revive their alliance with Naidu, who had snapped ties with them before the 2019 elections and allied with the Congress party. BJP leaders said they were not ready to trust Naidu again, especially after the bitter attacks he launched on Prime Minister Narendra Modi and other central leaders during previous elections.

“The BJP-Jana Sena Party alliance is the only force capable of dislodging the YSRCP government,” claimed state BJP president Somu Veerraju.

Pawan Kalyan had launched the Jana Sena before the 2014 elections but his party did not contest the polls. Popular as a power star, he supported the TDP-BJP combine and campaigned for its candidates in the company of Narendra Modi and Chandrababu Naidu.

However, Pawan later distanced himself from the BJP, targeting it for going back on its promise to give special category status to Andhra Pradesh.

The Jana Sena contested the 2019 elections in alliance with the CPI, CPI (M) and the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP). However, the alliance had to bite the dust. The actor failed to win either of the two seats he had contested. The Jana Sena could win only one seat in the 175-member Assembly. It polled 6.78 percent votes and lost deposits in as many as 120 assembly seats. It drew a blank in the Lok Sabha elections.

However, the Jana Sena fared better than the BJP, which failed to retain four Assembly and two Lok Sabha seats which it had won in 2014. The saffron party’s vote share was less than one per cent.

The YSRCP wrested power from the TDP by bagging 151 seats. The TDP was a distant second with 23 seats.

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