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Decoding politic at Pawan Kalyan

Decoding politic at Pawan Kalyan
Highlights

It’s certainly news given the fact that until now Jana Sena refrained from contesting elections. This is not just one indication that Pawan Kalyan would be making a serious entry into electoral arena. His battle cry over the special status and subsequently his strong assertions on land acquisition and consequent issues of displacement add fodder to the speculation.  

The popular film actor and the founder of Jana Sena has fired yet another political salvo as the reports suggest that he would be enrolling as a voter in Eluru. This obviously fuels enough indication that the actor-politician is all set to contest the 2019 polls in Andhra Pradesh.

It’s certainly news given the fact that until now Jana Sena refrained from contesting elections. This is not just one indication that Pawan Kalyan would be making a serious entry into electoral arena. His battle cry over the special status and subsequently his strong assertions on land acquisition and consequent issues of displacement add fodder to the speculation.


One thing is sure for now. Pawan would like to plunge into active electoral politics and test the political waters with his Jana Sena. However, what is not yet clear is who will be his political friends and foes. The political equations have a strange character of undergoing swift and steady changes to suit the particular political context in which various political parties interplay


Apart from such occasional outbursts, the Jana Sena chief seems to be making headway by deciding to organise a massive gathering in Anantapur purportedly to highlight the problems and issues confronting the people of Seemandhra region who now constitute the remaining state of Andhra Pradesh.

Though he has not formally given up the political activity in Telangana where too he enjoys fan following, Pawan seems to be zeroing in on Andhra Pradesh. It’s a clear appreciation of changed political landscape in the post-bifurcation phase.

Pawan Kalyan has several positives to put forth. He has not contested 2014 polls. But, he was instrumental in hoisting the NDA combine into power in Andhra Pradesh. It’s rather difficult and even meaningless to quantify the contribution of Pawan Kalyan to the victory of TDP-BJP combine in 2014. Yet, his role cannot be brushed aside.

Pawan Kalyan's campaign added more spice to the TDP-BJP crusade. It helped the combine to consolidate the vote in its favour. The fact that the YSR Congress lost the polls with only a slender margin reveals the significance of Pawan factor in the 2014 mandate. No single factor really generates a verdict. However, the importance of each factor cannot be ignored.

The Pawan Kalyan support factor also contributed to the drift of Kapu voters towards the TDP-BJP combine. Thus, Kapus for the first time in three decades voted in such large numbers for the TDP. This is evident from the fact that TDP won overwhelmingly in the constituencies where Kapus are numerically strong, though it’s erroneous to construe Pawan phenomenon as Kapu resurgence as the popular film star has following across social and regional loyalties.

Pawan could preserve his political identity by disassociating himself from the Praja Rajyam merger with Congress. He has even distanced himself from his brother and the matinee idol Chiranjeevi, though his personal reverence to the elder brother is unquestionable. If he has not maintained his political identity, Pawan’s political experiment would have been an uphill task.

Critics may point out to his rendering unconditional support to TDP-BJP combine to question his political neutrality. But, the fact remains that he has not expected anything in return for the support he lent to TDP-BJP combine.

This allows him to raise questions over the performance of the ruling combine and makes it difficult for the latter to question him. This is perhaps the reason for the TDP-BJP leaders taking every precaution while responding to the questions raised by Pawan Kalyan.

One thing is sure for now. Pawan would like to plunge into active electoral politics and test the political waters with his Jana Sena. However, what is not yet clear is who will be his political friends and foes. The political equations have a strange character of undergoing swift and steady changes to suit the particular political context in which various political parties interplay.

His association with the TDP-BJP during 2014 polls obviously raises the first question over his future relationship with these two parties. Even when the relationship between TDP and BJP is unpredictable, it’s too early to speculate on Pawan Kalyan‘s calculations. There is obviously no need for his to spell his strategy at this point of time when the elections are still far away.

Pawan Kalyan is taking a cautious approach in his response to Chandrababu Naidu governments’ policies and programmes. He is fully aware that the discontent against Naidu regime is yet to crystallise and he may perhaps be unsure on how people would react if he goes on a full scale attack on TDP- BJP rule.

However, he refuses to be silent on special status and is quite unequivocal in squarely blaming the BJP for denying special status to Andhra Pradesh and even launched an unsparing criticism of the TDP leadership for what he meant a spineless reaction. This helped dispel the clouds of suspicion that he may be acting at the behest of TDP or BJP to divide the anti-establishment sentiment.

The opposition YSR Congress still seems to be firmly holding the view that Pawan Kalyan is BJP-TDP trump card in the opposition camp. Only future actions and polemics of Jana Sena chief could only prove or disprove this politically motivated assessment.

It is a politically inspired estimate precisely because whether or not Pawan Kalyan is acting at the behest of TDP or BJP, the fact remains that his powerful entry into Andhra Pradesh politics would certainly harm the interests of YSR Congress as it hopes to monopolize any possible rise in people’s discontent over Modi-Naidu dispensation at the centre and the state.

When the YSR congress is lukewarm in its approach to BJP, Pawan Kalyan has every right to keep his political cards close to his chest and be prepared for any possible scenario.

However, refreshing is the political signals emanating from Jana Sena camp for now. The party is preparing for an independent activity and remains unsparing in its attack on his so far allies at least on certain immediate issues confronting the people of Andhra Pradesh.

He has also given enough indication not to rule out a possible third front with the Left parties if the political pitch is conducive for any such experiment. He has enough time to consolidate his political strategy. Therefore, the enigma over possible political permutations and combinations continue.

Many options exist before Pawan Kalyan. He can formulate a third front in the state politics by aligning with the likeminded parties. The Left seems to be the obvious choice in such a scenario. Though, the Left is a politically marginalised force in Andhra Pradesh politics, Pawan’s tie-up with the Reds gives the much-needed striking power for his political campaign.

Adversarial politics is the unique selling proposition of the Left and they would not be the contender for power politics and thus do not pose any competition for Pawan Kalyan but shall complement his political tirade.

The second option is to tie up with the BJP in case the party decides to break away from TDP in the run-up to 2019. There are no discernible signs to this effect at least for now, though such a possibility cannot be ruled out.

The BJP would love to rope in Pawan Kalyan to realise its objective under Mission -7, its political plan to gain some formidable foothold in seven states so as to compensate for the possible reverses in the North where it had a saturated mandate in 2014.

The BJP lacks any leadership of some stature in the state. Pawan enjoys political chemistry with Prime Minister Narendra Modi. In case of fruition of BJP-Jana Sena alliance, Pawan Kalyan would be its chief ministerial candidate. But, despite such advantages, there are many a slip between the cup and the lip.

Narendra Modi’s popularity would be put to a serious test in the Assembly elections till 2019 Parliament general elections. It’s yet unclear on the possible swings in the political and public mood across the country. The Bihar and the Assam verdicts gave a contrasting picture.

The more important aspect is how the Centre’s intransigence especially in regard to blatant denial of special status would actually play up the public sentiment at the hustings is still unpredictable.

The future of Congress is still bleak and the people of Andhra Pradesh deeply hurt by what they feel the arbitrary bifurcation are yet to reconcile with the Congress. Jana Sena‘s political marriage with TDP is unlikely as he would be only a junior partner in any such political arithmetic.

Given this political calculus, Pawan seems to be in no mood to hurry up in the political chess board and concentrate on playing the critical adversarial role in the state, politics leaving his supporters and critics guessing, if not puzzled.

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